Health care and compensation costs are chief among expenses driving up the proposed Rutland City Public School District budget for fiscal year 2021.
The budget, if approved by voters on Town Meeting Day in March, would be up roughly $4 million to $58,792,157, a 7.3% increase from last year.
Overall health care costs are up 12% over fiscal year 2020. Chief Financial Officer Mary Alma Noonan said the figure is “independent of the new state health care plan.”
“We don’t have options to provide better benefits than what’s in this plan,” she said in her presentation to School Board commissioners Tuesday evening.
Noonan said compensation is 79% of total expenses.
The equalized homestead tax rate has yet to be set by the state.
The common level of appraisal is, however, a matter of contention. Interim Superintendent David Wolk said City Appraiser Barry Keefe will appeal the state to reconsider the current figure, which is reportedly several percentage points lower than last year.
Spending per equalized pupil is up 3.2% from last year to $15,927, which still puts Rutland lower than the statewide average.
“All the things driving it are out of our control,” Courcelle said.
Board member Hurley Cavacas Jr., agreed, citing additional spending increases in special education and employee salaries set by collective bargaining agreements.
On the savings side, Wolk commended Noonan for keeping expenses relatively flat outside of the main drivers of health care and compensation.
After some general discussion, board member Kam Johnston made a motion to cut $100,000 from the contingency line item, reasoning that if that amount is budgeted it will be spent, but not necessarily for emergency purposes.
The motion failed in a roll call vote.
The budget as presented was then passed with Johnston casting the only dissenting vote. Board member Michael Blow was absent.