Education tax rate drops in Pittsfield
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | March 06,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Pittsfield resident Ray Colton enjoys a light moment during the Pittsfield Town Hall on Tuesday morning.
PITTSFIELD — It was no repeat of 2012.
Voters unanimously approved a school budget of $1,256,858 for the upcoming fiscal year at town meeting Tuesday morning. It was a sign of a return to normalcy for the town, as was the return to Town Hall after last year’s frigid meeting in the fire department garage.
The school budget represents a decrease of $36,411, or 2.8 percent, compared to the current budget of $1,293,269, an amount that was approved at a special meeting in June.
In a near-unanimous vote, voters at town meeting last year rejected a proposed budget increase of about $157,000 that would have added 41 cents to the homestead tax rate. The town does not operate a school but instead pays tuition, and an unexpected increase in the student population, combined with rising special education costs, put the town in a financial-penalty situation based on the education-funding scheme from Montpelier.
The new budget reduces the homestead education tax rate from $1.67 to $1.55.
School Board Chairwoman Kris Sperber told voters the town will pay tuition for 67 pupils, compared to 72 pupils this year. The per-pupil education cost has also dropped, from $17,100 this year to $16,455 next year.
John R. Poljacik, superintendent of the Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union, discussed the launch of a study — with results expected in the next three or four months — looking at the potential fiscal savings that might come from dissolving the supervisory union.
“After 40 years in education, John’s final act might be eliminating his own job,” Sperber said.
On the town side, voters unanimously approved a budget of $525,329, an increase of $13,651, or 2.7 percent, compared to the current budget of $511,678.
That budget, combined with the approval of a separate $10,000 article for the highway equipment reserve fund, will result in a municipal tax rate of 53 cents, a two-cent increase.
There was only one contested race, with Jessica Fuster beating Martha Beyersdorf for a three-year auditor’s post by a vote of 22 to 17.
In noncontested races, Jerome Drugonis was re-elected to his three-year seat on the Select Board, and A.J. Ruben was re-elected to the School Board for another three years.