Edgecomb school committee members voted unanimously March 30 to support new warrant items involving the proposed 2021-2022 budget. The amendments on additional local funds and language on unanticipated cost reserves were requested in an emergency Edgecomb selectmen’s meeting March 25 after it was learned Edgecomb’s school surplus would be about $460,000.
Committee Vice Chair Heather Sinclair came to an understanding with selectmen March 25 on these changes, but said she did not want to agree without the rest of the board’s approval.
Said Sinclair, “The select board (recommended) the warrant article that addresses the use of undesignated fund balance to reduce the tax burden on the town be increased by an additional $50,000 to a total of $250,000. The second warrant article, the one regarding developing a contingency fund, would also be supported by the selectboard with a couple of changes … reducing the total amount being put forth into that fund to $140,000 and the second one being to request that money spent out of that fund would require the approval of both the school board and the select board.”
The only unknown for the two panels is how the latest warrant items will operate being on a second, hand-counted ballot. Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 accountant Marc Roy of Barry Talbot Royer said Article 14, additional local funds, will be the only fiscal change and while passage of the original article and amendment article would be straightforward, for one to fail and the other prevail would make it unclear what stands. “If the article isn't amended and instead a subsequent article to amend that article that passed doesn't pass, then the article stands … (and) let's say that Article 14 fails originally and then the amendment article passes, I would assume that stands? I have no idea.”
Selectman Dawn Murray, former school committee member, will write the language AOS 98 Superintendent Keith Laser will check and run by school attorneys along with an inquiry on how the voting structure should operate.
In all, $70,000 will remain in the undesignated fund balance, $250,000 will be used to reduce taxes and $140,000 will go into a contingency fund and be used only with selectmen’s approval. The changes bring the proposed budget – which had offered a 3.4% reduction from this year’s – to a 5.3% or $160,000 reduction.
Selectmen will vote April 5 on whether or not those changes carry into public hearing on April 12 and onward to the May 21 Edgecomb election and town meeting.
Said Edgecomb select board Chair Ted Hugger, “I just want to thank you guys for being willing to come back to the table and negotiate this out in good spirit with good intentions. Thank you.”