Session kept short, sweet in Merrimack

MERRIMACK – Everything stays the same.

At least the Merrimack School District’s warrant did, including the proposed $63.6 million budget, following last night’s Deliberative Session. And in this case, it was done quickly.

Including about 15 minutes of announcements and instructions from moderator Carolyn Whitlock, the meeting clocked in at just under 40 minutes.

The School Board and School Budget Committee, and about 50 voters at the session, endorsed next year’s spending plan, which is about $883,000, or 1.4 percent, above the current budget.

The budget is up primarily because of health insurance, retirement costs, increases to teachers’ salaries and benefits, transportation contracts and rate increases for out-of-district special education placements.

Based on getting $953,000 in state aid, the budget won’t increase tax bills. The school’s $11.50 per $1,000 of assessed value will remain steady, according to business administrator Matt Shevenell.

That means the owner of a home valued at $300,000 would pay $3,450 in school property taxes.

It also includes $150,000 to replace an 8-year-old computer lab, $99,000 for a new library automation system and $85,000 for programs for at-risk students.

Two money articles were also sent to the ballot unchanged. One, a one-year contract for support staff, will cost $287,936 for salaries and benefits. The contract covers most non-teacher positions, including paraprofessionals, assistants and mechanics.

The other article would put $150,000, or half the end-of-year surplus, whichever is lower, into a reserve account for roof repairs.

Including the warrant articles, the tax rate will go up an estimated 7 cents, Shevenell said, adding about $14 to a typical tax bill.

Residents will cast their votes on the school district warrant April 14.