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Conway seeks 2.5% increase to Frontier budget

CONWAY — Two Frontier towns are drawing the line on the Frontier Regional School budget.

The Conway Selectboard and Finance Committee are calling for a 2.5 percent increase to the school operating budget. And the Deerfield selectmen and Finance Committee are drawing the line at 3 percent. The school was hoping for a hike closer to 5 percent.

The two towns’ dissent is an early sign that the school budget as proposed may not pass muster at annual town meetings. The school budget needs three of its four member towns to approve or the School Committee has to propose a new budget at special town meetings in the summer.

However, the school financial picture may change. The School Committee was scheduled to discuss possible adjustments Wednesday night. Details were unavailable as of press time.

This year has seen a lengthy and controversial budget process with towns pushing back against the proposed $9,545,088 school budget and the School Committee insisting it can’t cut any more.

Sunderland has recommended the budget as is. Whately also supported its full share.

The proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Frontier budget increased by 4.92 percent, which translates to an 18.07 percent increase for Conway and 10.76 percent increase for Deerfield. The proposed budget is $466,861 more than the current year’s budget.

Between the current year and the next year, Conway’s assessment increased by $155,935. Deerfield’s assessment increased by $302,574. Sunderland’s share increased by $35,555 or 2.2 percent. Whately’s share decreased by 4,087 or .06 percent.

According to calculations using the funding formula by Conway Finance Committee Chairman Jim Bosman, if the budget increased by 2.5 percent, the overall budget increase would amount to $232,080.

The current Conway assessment at a 4.92 percent increase is $1,019,105. If the budget is trimmed to a 2.5 percent increase, Conway’s assessment would be $989,105.

Deerfield’s current assessment at a 4.92 percent increase is $3,115,660. At 2.5 percent increase, Deerfield would save $105,015. The new assessment would be $3,010,645.

Sunderland’s current assessment is $1,649,178. With a 2.5 percent increase, it would drop $61,060 to $1,588,118.

Whately’s current assessment is $877,099. At 2.5 percent increase, the town assessment would decrease $35,972 to $841,127.

At 3 percent, the overall budget increase would be $281,665. The assessment for Conway would be $991,684. Deerfield’s would drop to $3,019,770. Sunderland’s would be $1,593,424. Whately’s would be $844,253.

“This is about Frontier having a budget that is sustainable. Every year some towns get socked and others are relieved,” said Finance Committee Chairman Jim Bosman.

The School Committee has already taken $40,000 from surplus to reduce individual town assessments in an attempt to reduce the budget increase. If the School Committee proposes any substantial changes, Conway would have enough time to adjust the town meeting warrant. The Deerfield Finance Committee and Selectboard scheduled meetings for Monday at 6 p.m. before the annual town meeting to give them a chance to make changes. But it would be too late for Sunderland. Motions would have to be made on the town meeting floor Friday night.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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