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Woodbury Finance Chair Urges "No" Vote on School Budget [POLL]

The town budget will come before residents at a May referendum while the Region 14 school budget is scheduled for June.

 

The referendum on the town of Woodbury's proposed 2012-13 budget will take place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 31, at the .

Board of Finance Chairman Bill Drakeley presented the following information on the proposed budget at a Monday, May 21, annual town and budget meeting.

Budget Statistics

  • Proposed 2012-13 Town Budget: $9,463,255
  • Increase of 8.63 percent or $752,134 over the 2011-12 town budget of $8,711,121
  • Current mill rate: 22.46
  • Proposed mill rate: 22.43

First Selectman Gerald Stomski told Patch that a home assessed at $350,000 would pay $10.50 less in annual taxes, if the proposed budget is approved.

Drakeley told Patch that a proposed mill rate reduction was achieved due to increased revenues.

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Region 14's Budget

 The school district's budget weighed heavily on some residents' minds. Art McNally said the town's proposed budget assumes the Region 14 budget presents a zero percent increase, which it does not.

At the , members voted on the next figure to come before residents.

  • $30,817,765: A 1.89-percent increase, or $571,736, higher than the 2011-12 budget

Drakeley said the finance board came to a consensus and does not support Region 14's proposed budget.

"If you pass the next [Region 14] budget at the current level, you're going to see a tax increase," he said.

"So you're still urging people to reject the Region 14 budget?" McNally asked.

"Yes," Drakeley said.

The Region 14 budget referendum will take place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 6, at Memorial Hall in Bethlehem and the Senior Community Center in Woodbury.

Agriscience Program

Drakeley said the agriscience program, while great, has been a source of frustration.

"All the years I've been involved, I've never received an accurate answer on the cost it takes to run it," he said. "There's no way to determine what the true cost is."

He said more information is needed from Region 14.

"There's a lot that could be explained to us about different costs of programs within the region and whether Woodbury is being unfairly taxed with regard to out-of-town students," he said.

Resident Frank Shepard made a motion that was ultimately defeated after Board of Finance members noted that the town did not have the legal right to make that motion.

Shepard's motion was to instruct the Boards of Finance and Selectmen to withhold Woodbury's payment for vo-ag tuition students from Region 14's approved budget.

"I'll pay for my own students but I don't want to pay for someone else's," he said.

Selectman George Hale recommended the town go through the proper channels to address the vo-ag program.

"I certainly appreciate the spirit of the motion and the frustration that residents have over this issue," he said. "However, it's been pointed out that we don't have the legal right to do this."

Drakeley said the Board of Education members finally admitted there is an issue with the funding of out-of-region students.

"They're aware of it and they hear us but if you pass the [school] budget, it's going to go away again," he said. "I would suggest that you defeat the budget until you're satisfied with the explanation you get from the school."

Voice of Reason May 23, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Frank Shepard makes a good point, but at the wrong venue. Residents need to get out to the Region 14 meetings and make their voices heard until the Board listens and complies. Better yet. Break up the Region so their can be some accountability.
Tom Riddle May 23, 2012 at 01:14 PM
These same people are OK with buying a piece of property that is all wetlands, but can't support our children and our schools!
Voice of Reason May 23, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Hmm......all those tax dollars being paid and they don't go to support the schools? Hmm indeed........ "These same people are OK with buying a piece of property to aid in protection of our water supply in the future and also do support our children and our schools, but not at the loss of BOE accountability and unchecked spending." There, fixed it for you Mr. Riddle. No need to thank me, you're welcome.
Sean M May 24, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Tom Riddle, your comment lacks substance. Increasing spending every year does not support kids. Where is all the money going? What is being taught? To play this sob game is disingenuous and does not even address the issue. Region 14 spends too much because it is involved in too many areas it has no business being in. Woodbury needs multiple supplies of water because of the contamination in some existing water supplies. See Middle Quarter. Our water comes out of the ground and must be protected.
joe_m May 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Region 14 does have a Director of Finance and Operations. He should be required to break down the budget by school, and for the VoAg program. This has been requested for years by the tax payers of Region 14. Simple answer, keep voting NO, until Region 14 supplies a full disclosure of budget. The budget, as presented, does not allow a school level budget to be calculated by the town's tax payers. We need visibility in both cost per pupil for each school and for regular and special education as well as VoAg and administration cost.

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