Thursday January 31, 2013

DAWSON RASPUZZI

Staff Writer

SHAFTSBURY -- Shaftsbury School District warned a fiscal year 2014 budget last week that increases spending nearly 16 percent yet is expected to have a minimal impact on the district’s tax rate.

Several tax rate offsets

Even though the budget of $3.3 million is up $430,000, or 15.7 percent, the district’s tax rate is estimated to only increase 1.25 cents per $100 of assessed property value, or about 1 percent.

Working in the district’s favor is an increase of 20 equalized pupils and a rising common level of appraisal in town, both of which help offset the tax rate increase. Additionally, $270,000 of the budget increase is for special education expenses that are reimbursable at a rate of about 50 percent by the state to help offset the amount taxpayers must raise.

After blending the tax rate of Mount Anthony Union School District, Shaftsbury taxpayers are expected to see a 2.6 cent homestead tax rate increase, according to calculations from the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union business office. A 2.6 cent increase would mean a person who owns a home assessed at $100,000 will pay $26 more next year. The calculation includes estimates for the state’s base education spending and base spending per equalized pupils, which are rates the Legislature has yet to set.


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In addition to a significant increase in special education expenses -- which will, in part, pay for an additional paraprofessional and increase a special educator position and home to school liaison position -- the budget also accounts for a loss of federal grant revenue that will require taxpayers to fund some positions that were previously grant funded.

The budget also includes an additional $80,000 assessment from SVSU, excluding what the supervisory union assesses for special education, due to increased supervisory union costs and Shaftsbury accounting for a larger percent of the supervisory union due to increased enrollment.

The budget also includes a $20,000 increase for preschool tuition, up to $40,000, and a $14,000 increase in health insurance for the principal with the expectation that the replacement for James Harwood, who retires in June, may opt to take health insurance. The district also decided to increase the capital improvement line item from $37,000 to $57,000.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at draspuzzi@benningtonbanner.com or follow on Twitter @DawsonRaspuzzi