WVN #39: SPENDING, TAXING, AND SPENDING
- Wayland Voters Network
October 11, 2004
Dear Wayland Voter:
SPENDING, TAXING, AND SPENDING
The following notes on last Monday's School Committee meeting and a
portion of the Selectmen meeting were submitted by Tom Sciacca, WVN
A High School Proposal vote is headed for January.
More school spending is in the works.
School enrollment is dropping.
A $1 to $2 million override is slated for April.
See the last item for WVN's tax analysis.
School Committee 10/4/04
HIGH SCHOOL PROPOSAL- At this regular meeting the School Committee
formally voted to request the Selectmen to schedule a special election
on January 25, 2005, and a Special Town Meeting two days later to vote
on a Proposition 2 and 1/2 debt exclusion and appropriation,
respectively, to fund the design work for the $55 million High School
proposal. In contrast to the Selectmen's discussion (see below) there
was no mention of any effort to promote the use of absentee ballots for
ANNUAL TOWN MEETING- A number of draft warrant articles for ATM in
April were reviewed, including one for a new car for the Superintendent
and one for a new roof and windows for Happy Hollow. The administration
attempted to draft an article for every possible expenditure, with
final decisions to be made between now and December as to which items
to actually go forward with.
NEW SPORTS TEAM- The SC voted to establish a new Boy's Volleyball team
in spite of the additional costs it will produce. Superintendent Gary
Burton noted that the new team may pull kids from other sports.
Chairman Lori Frieling asked if more sports are on the horizon. Burton
replied that there are a number of possibilities. When the vote was
taken only member Fred Knight questioned the extra cost, but he still
eventually voted what he called a "grouchy aye".
ENROLLMENT DROPPING- Official numbers for this year's school
enrollments are now available. Total enrollment has dropped from 2966
last year to 2924, even lower than the projected 2940. The High School,
projected to be 914, is actually at 897. This is considerably lower
than the numbers used to justify a critical immediate need for a new
OPERATING OVERRIDE- Town Finance Director Bob Hilliard met with the
Selectmen to discuss the need for overrides. There will be a currently
estimated $1.2 million operating budget override needed for next fiscal
year (starts in July) and the plan is to present it to the voters at
the regular election in April. There was some agreement in the
discussion that it would be better to split the operating override
proposal from the High School override proposal so that voters would
not be overwhelmed and motivated to choose one over the other.
HIGH SCHOOL PROPOSAL- The Selectmen discussed the request from the SC
to schedule the special election and Town Meeting in January. Selectman
Brian O'Herlihy opined that the vote should be pushed out to April,
even if it means pushing the project out a year, because the already
planned use of modular classrooms and science labs will deal with the
expected student population in 2007. He will not support a January
vote. He also raised the possibility of holding the STM before the
special election, to allow a forum for debate before the voters cast
their ballots. Selectman Michael Tichnor stated his belief that timing
necessitates a January vote; he was persuaded by the School Committee
arguments regarding urgency. Selectman Doug Leard liked the idea of a
STM first, but reserved judgement on the date. Selectman Bill Whitney
supports a January vote. Chairman Betsy Connolly also supports a
January vote, and likes the notion of a Special Town Meeting first.
O'Herlihy raised the idea of encouraging participation in a January
election, which would normally be low because of winter vacations and
bad weather, by passing out information and possibly absentee ballot
applications at the Presidential election next month. He also suggested
an announcement in the tax bills, which will be mailed in time for the
February 1 due date.
The total town budget is currently in the neighborhood of $50 million,
so a $1.2 million override would represent an approximately 2.5%
increase. This will be in addition to the 2.5% which can be implemented
without a citizen vote under Proposition 2 and 1/2, leading to a total
budget increase of about 5%. This does NOT include the effects from a
potential debt exclusion override vote likely in January for the High
School proposal. The town budget has increased approximately 30% in the
last five years, so a 5% increase will simply continue the trend,
notwithstanding the fact that 5% is far higher than the rate of
inflation in the last five years. Any spending on capital projects,
most significantly the new High School proposal, will make this trend
line even steeper. Unlike the Federal government, the Town must raise
the money to support it's budget every year, meaning real estate taxes
will rise at approximately the same rate as the budget.
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Wayland Voters Network
Margo Melnicove, Chair
Michael Short, Treasurer