Recess is over–Town passes floor vote to reduce proposed budget.
With last week’s hour-long disapproval of the information presented behind them, Dr. Nilhas and the Littleton School Board came to Tuesday’s deliberative session very well prepared. The detailed slide show presented an overview of the entire proposed 2018-2019 budget. The presentation left very little room for ambiguity. Each section was reviewed with care and consideration for those in attendance, stopping often to field questions from the floor. In the end, however, the effort was still met with resistance. With a nearly flat budget from last year, the total proposed budget came in at the $16,639,000. This was $45 less than 2017-18.
After the nearly 75 minutes of review for Article 2, a motion from the floor was made to reduce the proposed figure by $300k. Tom Alt of Littleton presented the motion after sharing his personal thoughts and reflection’s from last year’s deliberative session. He painted a scenario of how this year could have been different:
“Last year the School Board, in a good effort, came up with a $600,000 cut and 300,000 of it went back in because of a four vote difference in this room. I think the sentiment was there to cut money for sure because the 300 just got coasted back in barely. It could have gone either way. So if you want to look at things a little bit differently, that default budget that we’re looking at, could have been three hundred thousand dollars less.”
Tom closed his statement with a simple thought that “A little hardship in our life is not a bad thing.” This was in reflection that many individuals in the room that are “very successful, very well-spoken businessman” here in Littleton today. It were many of these same individuals that gave previous vice principles of the school such a hard time generations before.
After a few additional comments and opinions from the floor, Brien Ward discussed the option of a “friendly amendment” to Tom’s motion. The change reduced the budget by only $300K, rather than the full $600K Tom suggested. Brien went on to discuss previous year’s examples, additional funds available from the reserve funds, and how the school could potentially use it to offset the tax rate. He then continued on and commended the school’s administrative staff for their passion, ability, and energy.
“We fortunately have, right now, probably the best administrative team in our buildings. We got Jen Carbonneau and Greg Fillion…you remember Captain John Smith? Well Greg Fillion is the modern-day version of him. His presence in that school makes this school run very well. And Jen is an energetic leader, the educational leader for our school systems. You got more energy than the Energizer Bunny. The combination of the two of them, with Steve’s experience, we’re gonna have one of the best high schools we’ve ever had before.”
Amendment from the floor passes.
Greg Cook made a motion that the vote for the amendment be made by secret ballot. There was a short recess for about 15 minutes while the citizens cast their ballots. In the end the amendment motion passed with very a very small margin; the vote passed with a mere 8 votes. The vote result was Yes – 45, No – 37, making the new proposed budget the $16,339,000. Should Article 2 fail, the default budget will be $16,663,334. This default amount would be enough to cover the projected expenditures on the original proposed budget. It is an actual increase of the original proposed budget by roughly $24,000.
The remaining articles, 3 through 8 met little resistance within the remaining 40 minutes of the meeting. Concerns were heard, however, over the increases in the salaries of the professional staff (Article 5). There was confusion surrounding the total cost of the increase over the three-year period. Art Tighe questioned Anne and the School Board of the total cost of the contract over the three-year period. At first it was explained to the room as a cost of roughly $490,726 by adding the three year’s increase over the three years. Art then went on to explain that these increases were owned through all of the years of the contract. The increase from year one compounds across all three years, the increase from year two shows up in year two and three, and the final year’s increase appears only in the third year.
The full coverage of last night’s SAU Deliberative session is available below: