Westfield Board Of Education Looks To Balance Less Aid, Lower Tax Cap
WESTFIELD – The first of three budget presentations was held during a recent Westfield Board of Education meeting.
The board of education will host two more informational presentations on Monday and March 24.
Superintendent David Davison said current state aid levels are still below the 2009 level and the 2 percent tax cap is actually at 1.64 percent this year.
Davison said this is the lowest the tax cap has been.
The key focus of the budget is “to meet the instructional needs of our students,” Davison said. Going into this budget season, Davison said the district will explore district reorganization and expanding shared services. Sharing services can be difficult, Davison added.
The key focus of the budget is “to meet the instructional needs of our students,” Davison said. “It’s something that is ongoing and sometimes easier said than done,” he said.
The projected budget gap for 2014-15 school year is approximately $318,000. This figure reflects the amount after state aid is applied. From the appropriated fund balance, $305,000 will be added, resulting in a $13,000 projected budget shortfall. Since the budget is in the very early stages, this number will change.
“These numbers are fluid; they are changing. As we revise, refine and review our needs, that number may go up or down,” Davison said.
Business Manager Alan Holbrook gave a brief presentation regarding the general support and transportation funds of the district. He said a lot of figures will need to be negotiated in contracts and noted there are no significant changes. One increase Holbrook took mention of was an increase of around $17,000 for a new scoreboard. The piece of equipment has been pulled out of a future building project, scheduled to start in summer 2015. The scoreboard is on its last legs, Holbrook explained.
“Everyone pretty much agrees that scoreboard is probably not going to make it another year,” he said.
Holbrook also said the EXCEL project, $3.6 million in cost, will have a slight local impact. The project will include roof repairs, asbestos removal and bringing up the buildings to ADA compliance, among others.
“This is a not a project where we’re adding a bunch of frills. This is a project that is to maintain this building,” said Steve Cockram, board member.
The board also discussed the Veterans Tax Exemption which would give an exemption based on the veteran’s service in the military. Board President Jeff Greabell said, while the district wants to honor veterans and appreciates their service, this information is too late to enact for the 2014-15 school year. A public hearing and the exemption would have had to be put in place prior to March 1. The board will discuss it in the future and can enact it any time before March 1, 2015, for the 2015-16 calendar year.