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Education Costs Drive Town Budget

Education Costs Drive Town Budget

At a special meeting on March 30, the Woodbridge Board of Finance voted to recommend a $47.7 million budget for Fiscal Year 2016-17, which represents a 3.3 percent increase over the current budget. The increase is driven to some degree by an increase in the school population, both at Amity and at Beecher Road School. Although the Amity Board of Education worked out a 1.99% budget increase with the district administration, Woodbridge’s share of that budget will increase by 5.8% due to a population shift.

The Woodbridge School District budget represents a 2.48% increase, driven primarily by special education needs. Enrollment at the elementary school is projected to continue to increase in the next four years, which will eventually continue to impact the town’s share of the Amity budget in upcoming years.

The 2016-17 expenditure package as presented includes $19.5 million for the town; $14.29 million for Amity and $13.8 million for Beecher.

Budget Hearing: Town officials will present the municipal budget at the annual hearing Monday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Senior Center. Residents get to vote on it at the annual Town Meeting, Monday, May 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Center gym. In the event of a lack of a quorum, the Board of Finance gets to set the mill rate, which it typically does following the Town Meeting.

Budget Cuts: In an effort to keep tax increases at or below 3%, the Woodbridge Board of Finance considered across-the-board funding reductions in certain spending categories, such as computer updates, vehicle replacement and road repairs. Thus, the annual road repair budget was reduced from $750,000 to $500,000; the contribution to the Public Works truck reserve was reduced by $179,000; police vehicle replacement was reduced by $47,000 and the technology budget for Beecher was reduced to $65,000 (down from a requested $125,000).

Mill Rate: Given that the state voted to cap motor vehicle mill rates at 32 mills ($32 per $1,000 assessed value), the revenue from taxes will shift to real estate and personal property, said Finance Director Anthony Genovese. The mill rate on real estate property will jump to 39.2 from the current 37.66 to support the budget as presented. That means an additional $1.54 in property taxes for every $1,000 in assessment, or $539 for a property assessed at $350,000.

The town will therefore have two mill rates going forward, one for motor vehicles, the other for real estate.

By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent

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