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Saturday, July 26, 2014
BEA budget committee recommends piercing tax cap
(Page 2 of 3)
Courtesy BEA
These slides are from a BAC presentation. They depict how the costs of various tax increases impact residents and the projected school budget deficit.

The BAC feels that the cuts required to bridge a $6 million gap would be so painful the community will approve piercing the tax cap. They cited, among other cuts, reductions in kindergarten, arts, music, sports and activities, administration, secondary schedules, an increase in class sizes and the alteration or elimination of the gifted and talented program. They also suggested busing cuts might be in store, but clarified that any changes to transportation would require

separate public approval.

Piercing, but how deeply?

The BAC presented several visions of an over-the-cap budget, and quantified how expensive each would be to the average Baldwin home valued at $340,326. A tax increase of 3.14 percent, they said, would cost the average home $258 and would leave the schools $6 million short. An increase of 5 percent, or $410 to a homeowner, would cut the deficit to $4.4 million. (See chart for further projections.) The BAC did not advocate for any particular version of the plan, but seemed cautiously optimistic about the chances for success in the middle range.

Board debates budget

The night after the BAC made its recommendations, the board of education met with administration in the District Office on Hastings Street. At this Budget Work Session, which drew few members of the public, they took a line-by-line look at ways to save money. Among the cuts discussed were kindergarten services, arts and music, athletics, clubs and field trips at all levels, security streamlining, the gifted and talented program, sports/intramural night and more. They also hashed out proposals to increase class sizes and decrease the length of the middle school day. The board also looked at potential revenue sources and a long-term, four-year financial outlook.

Among the thorniest topics discussed was the reduction in transportation services. Busing cuts require public approval; and while the board sees an avenue to savings by reducing busing, they also expressed reservations about seeking public approval for both a transportation cut and a tax increase in the same year. No conclusion on how to present the bus cuts and the tax increase as part of the same package was reached.

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