2% budget rise before Amherst district voters

AMHERST – The Amherst School District will hold its annual Deliberative Session on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Souhegan High School.

At the session, registered voters will be given a presentation of the proposed operating budget and other warrant articles. Voters will be able to discuss each item on the warrant, and then either approve or amend it. The version of the warrant agreed upon at the Deliberative Session will be voted on in the March 10 general election.

Here is a look at the warrant that will be presented at the Deliberative Session:

Budget: The proposed school district operating budget is $23,163,153, an increase of $452,473, or 1.99 percent, over the current budget.

Although nearly 10 positions will be cut due to declining enrollment, the budget is up mainly because of repayment on bonds for the school renovations approved last year, benefit costs, utility costs and increases in special education costs.

The proposed operating budget’s estimated tax impact would add between 16 and 20 cents to the tax rate, which is $9.66 per $1,000 of assessment property valuation.

>>Town Meeting ‘09<< The numbers are not precise because it is unknown what the town's valuation will be come April. The 20-cent increase would happen if the town's valuation is flat. Taxes would go up by three cents if the town's valuation goes up by 2 percent. The default budget, which would go into effect by law if the operating budget is rejected by voters, is $22,963,809. Other warrant articles: A three-year collective bargaining agreement between the school board and the Amherst Support Staff Association. The additional costs of the agreement are: 2009-10, $51,849; 2010-11, $61,195; and 2011-12, $59,600. Estimated tax impact: 3 cents. A 10-year agreement that renegotiates the deal between the Amherst School Board and Mont Vernon, which sends its students to the middle school on a tuition basis. The new agreement would begin July 2011. According to a guide put together for the deliberative session, in the proposed new deal, the per-student cost will be based on the actual net operating expenses of the Amherst Middle School. New capital expenditures will be calculated and shared on a per-student basis. As in the past agreement, outside special education costs and transportation to and from the Middle School are the responsibility of the student's home district. An article that asks voters' permission to include recommendations on warrant articles by district boards, by showing their vote tallies, on future warrants. This article is intended to clarify the legality of including these so-called "tallies" on future warrants.