SAINT JOHNSBURY -- Saint Johnsbury voters will have three different articles to weigh in on during Town Meeting day. All three articles will be discussed, but each is very distinct from the next in nature. The first article asks for a 17.7 million dollar school budget, which is a 5.79 percent increase from last year's budget. The second article seeks that the management of funds be placed in the hands of the town rather than the district. The third article asks voters whether or not they would like to create a Capital Improvement Reserve Fund. The fund would aquire any money that is left over from the previous years budget, instead of having that amount be automatically put towards the next years budget.
Even with the increased school budget, taxes are not anticipated to rise this year. Ranny Bledsoe, the Superintendent of the Saint Johnsbury School District said, "Although we have a budget increase this year, we don't have an increase in taxes." In fact taxes may even decrease for some individuals. "For folks who are under income tax sensitivity, which means they get a reduction of their tax bill, taxes will actually go down."
The 17.7 million dollar school budget is an increase of about 976 thousand dollars more than last year's school budget. Some of the big ticket items accounting for the increase are, the premiere of a Curriculum Coordinator position at 85 thousand dollars, a new theater program at ten thousand dollars, and supplies for Pre-K through fourth grade students that are anticipated to cost a little more than ten thousand dollars. Deb Simmons, the Business Administrator for the Saint Johnsbury Town School, said she plans to "go over the important points that we feel the town voters will want to know in regards to what are our major increases. The supporting reasons behind the increase in the budget."
Coinciding with the budget is the Capital Improvement Reserve Fund. "If at the end of next year we have a surplus, 10,000, 50,000, whatever. If you don't have a fund approved, our budget gets audited and then that money rolls into paying for a future budget. But, if we approve the Capital Improvement Reserve Fund, instead of being rolled into a future budget it would go into a savings account to fund our capital improvements when they come down the line" Bledsoe said.
Saint Johnsbury voters can cast their ballots tomorrow between 10 a.m. and seven p.m at the Saint Johnsbury Town school.