News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 2, 2017
Brooklin school budget dropping but taxation increasing by 3.4 percent

by Anne Berleant

A proposed 2017-18 school budget of $1,870,940 unanimously approved by the board on January 19 may be down 0.9 percent, or $17,400, but the tax burden is set to rise 3.4 percent.

The reason is about $76,000 less in balance forward used as revenue.

“Over the last three years Brooklin has been using larger and larger amounts of our balance forward to reduce potential tax increases,” Superintendent Chris Elkington said.

Balance forward, or money left over at the end of the financial year, can be used as revenue to reduce taxation and as a financial safeguard, with auditors typically recommending a balance forward of at least 5 percent of an annual budget.

Last year, $200,000 of balance forward was used as revenue, and to pay for capital improvements to the foundation and walls, but the budget is tighter this year, Elkington said, and the board reduced carryforward revenue for 2017-18 to $123,712, based on an estimated $223,011 balance after the end of the current financial year which ends on June 30.

Under the proposed budget, the local share to be raised through taxation is up $94,887, which just about equals the increases proposed in elementary ($59,515) and secondary ($33,384) instruction.

Teacher health insurance is up $30,000, while $22,000 has been added to the salary line during negotiations, a 2.5 percent increase. A pre-K ed. tech. position is being added but an English as a second language position is being cut.

And while $17,500 has been trimmed from library, guidance, and co- and extra-curricular budget lines, technology instruction has increased $8,500.

The secondary instruction increase reflects about three more student tuitions than this year; two of those are considered contingencies.

Special education is down $35,500, partly from eliminating an ed. tech. position, and operations and maintenance is also down, nearly $18,000. The state subsidy is estimated at $37,486, with the state department of education to release allocation figures later this spring.

The superintendent and board looked at “multiple ways to reduce this year’s budget,” Elkington said, to compensate for the lower balance forward amount.