Correction: The Joint Finance Committee approved a 2.25 percent increase in town contributions. Overall, school budget will increase .45 percent over FY12.
After the Joint Finance Committee's Warren representatives were shot down in a 3-6 vote in a motion to level fund the district, the Joint finance Committee passed the Bristol Warren Regional School District FY13 budget with a 2.25 percent increase in contribution from the two towns over the FY12 budget. The budget passed 6-3, with all Bristol representatives voting in favor and all members representing Warren voting against.
The meeting drew less than 100 teachers, administrators, school committee members and members of the public who attended in either support or opposition to the school's requested budget. Only 16 members of the public voiced their opinions in the forum and all but one showed support for the budget increase.
According to Committee Chairman David Barboza, the meeting produced a fair compromise.
"The compromise was good because it balanced the district needs with what Bristol and Warren can afford," Barboza said.
Though the school district had requested the maximum cap allowed by law, a 4 percent increase, and the Town of Warren requested to level fund the district, the Joint Finance Committee made the final call to settle with a number "in the middle" of the two requests.
The school's request of a combined contribution of $1.3 million over the FY12 budget ($681,540 additional from Bristol and $624,567 additional from Warren) was cut by more than a third from a motion from Bristol Town Councilor Kenneth Marshall. In Marshall's motion, he requested that the towns contriubute a total of $734,316, or 2.25 percent over the FY12 contributions. The additional funds are broken down to contributions of $318,087 (a 1.52% increase) from the town of Bristol and $416,229 (a 3.54% increase) from the town of Warren.
In Bristol, the Town Administrator's current proposed budget already accounts for an additional allocation to the district up to $300,000 without increasing the taxes. With a contribution of $318,087, taxpayers in Bristol may see a slight increase in the proposed rate if no cuts are made by the Town Council.
In Warren, the scene is a bit more grim. When the Warren Town Council approved the proposed FY13 town budget, members of the council voted to level fund the district. Councilor Cathie Tattrie also voiced her concerns prior to Tuesday's meeting regarding the impact an increased contribution could have on the town's budget and tax rate, noting that fulfilling the initial request would raise tax rate by $0.45. Warren Councilors state that the increased contribution will cause an increased tax rate as well as significant cuts to the municipal budget.
"We know that the town of Warren is struggling, but [the contributions] will create a tax increase for both towns," Barboza said. "We have to make a compromise."
In total, the Bristol Warren Regional School District will receive $33,387,000 in funding from Bristol and Warren.