Addison prepares for Act 46 referendum

ADDISON — The Addison Central School board on Jan. 21 adopted a $1,606,375 spending proposal for the 2016-2017 school year that, if approved on Town Meeting Day, would make few changes to school’s program and would raise spending by 4.12 percent, or about $63,000.
That increase is almost entirely driven by an expected hike of roughly 8 percent in health insurance benefits and contracted raises, said Addison Northwest Supervisory Union Superintendent JoAn Canning this week.
The board voted to use $100,000 of a projected fund balance from the end of the current school year to keep spending under the spending threshold set by Act 46, Canning said. Schools that spend above that threshold would pay an extra dollar in property tax for every dollar budgeted over the threshold. The Legislature is considering changes to that threshold, but what it will decide remains uncertain.
Tax impacts of ANwSU budgets are currently difficult to project because of the unknowns in Montpelier, but estimates will be published before Town Meeting Day.
Members of the Addison Central board felt confident tapping projected savings from the current budget year, Canning said, because a draft audit projects a “somewhat” higher carryover than $100,000, and the board was “conservative in using our fund balance.”
ANwSU audits have been delayed even though district officials have supplied all required materials to auditors in a timely manner, Canning said. Although audits will not be included in town reports, she said they should be available on Town Meeting Day, including reports on special ACS funds.
“That is our plan,” Canning said.
The ACS board had earlier in January looked at $1.62 million and $1.5 million spending plans, with the lower proposal designed to avoid the Act 46 threshold.
By choosing to dip into the projected fund balance, the board was able to retain a part-time math interventionist and extracurricular programs and field trips.
Canning said the board last week did make some cuts in maintenance, technology equipment and summer school and afterschool programming, but also restored proposed reductions in the number of days worked by the school’s principal, custodian and administrative assistant.
She and the board are happy both to preserve programming and dodge tax penalties.
“We do feel comfortable with this budget,” Canning said.
The school does have a food service program deficit of roughly $100,000 that also must be addressed. The board will be planning on how to handle that problem and could choose to put the rest of the fund balance toward that deficit, Canning said, adding that the exact amount of each number will be known shortly, when the audits are complete.
The program has lost money in the past couple years largely because of the school’s declining enrollment, Canning said. 

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