Danby officials craft budgets

DANBY - The Danby Select Board discussed and reviewed the town budget in a meeting on Monday, Jan. 14, but have yet to approve the budget, according to Select Board member Michael Blair.

"There was some concern over the amount of retreatment on our roads to at least have enough money to do troubled spots," he said. "Besides that we worked on trying to reduce the amount of debt towards the budget."

In fiscal year 2013 the fund for retreatment of roads budgeted at $175,000, however the town spent more than $253,000 in that area while upgrading the shoulder width on town roads among other things. This year retreatment was budgeted at $113,000, a $62,000 decrease.

"We don't see ourselves spending that much money again for retreatment this year," said Blair.

A line item labeled "Special Projects," which is a fund for town jobs that require additional money, will see a $15,000 decrease this year.

Last year Special Projects was budgeted at $25,000, This year that item will be only $10,000.

"Special projects are jobs that we have on the side that require an additional expense," said Blair. "We just don't see that much happening to appropriate that much money this year."

The Town of Danby is using a new system to present the budget and are now using the NEMRC system as recommended by the state of Vermont. Previous troubles with the budget prompted the change, said Wright.

The NEMRC system stands for the New England Municipal Resource Center. Their goal is to provide technological and management resources to municipalities, schools, and non-profits, according to their Web site. Products and services they provide include municipal software, one on one training, consulting, and support.

The Town of Danby is also looking into a possible upgrade of the town offices. During a Jan. 3 Selectboard meeting, board members decided that a cost analysis will be completed to estimate the cost of upgrading the town offices, which has three options.

The first option is to analyze the costs to renovate the Holy Trinity Church into a town office. Wright said about three years ago the church closed and was offered to the Town. The second option to look into is the upgrading of the current town offices and the third is to see how much it would cost to start from scratch and build an entire new town offices building.

The budget is set to be reviewed and ready for public comment, and possibly approved, at the Tuesday, Jan. 22 Select Board meeting at 7 p.m. School District develops its budget.

In other budget related news, the Union #23 School District which includes Currier Memorial Elementary School approved their fiscal year 2014 budget during a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 10. The budget calls for a 6.2 percent increase from the fiscal year 2013 budget of $1,594,879 to $1,693,844 this year.

The elementary program will see an increase of 8.9 percent in this years budget to $697,198, up from last year's total of $640,144. The superintendent of the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union, Daniel French, said that this cost is going up is due to the addition of a special education teacher at Currier.

The BRSU will be taking a burden off of Currier Memorial's budget as Group Medical and speech teacher salary will be reduced to zero in the 2014 budget. Last year speech teacher salary and group medical together totaled $49,519. This year, along with Sunderland Elementary, the BRSU will provide Currier Memorial those services on an as needed basis, allowing for the school to only spend the money when needed.

Herbert Ogden, chairman of the Union #23 School Board, said that French is strong at finding areas in the budget to change and that it really helps the School Board out.

"Dan [French] has really done some good things for us in the budgeting process," he said. "There have been times in the past when we did not fully need the position, but we had to budget as if we did. In this case we can have them on an as-needed basis and that saves us some money."

The 2014 budget will also see an increase in computer equipment. Last year this part of the budget only totaled $1,000 compared to this year's total of $7,000. According to French, the School Board wanted to increase this line further, but ultimately decided not too. The line item increases due to a grant fund that supported increases in hardware and technology becoming increasingly unavailable.

"Keeping up with technology is extremely important," said Helen Richards-Peelle, the principal of Currier Memorial. "We now have the Learning Management System and we need to have updated software to be able to use it. The devices we use don't last forever and we need funds to replace when they get broken."

Richards-Peelle said that an important part of raising funds for things such as technology is the Project Currier Excellence Program (PCE). The program is made up of parents who came together to raise funds for projects that provide an educational benefit to the school.

"They have raised funds for things like energy efficient windows, a new ball field, music scholarships, they fund the bus that takes our kids to the mountain for JISP," said Richards-Peelle. "They have raised over $100,000 in four years, which is pretty impressive. A lot of praise should go out to the parents."

Like all schools in the BRSU there will be a 32 percent decrease in the budget for the office of the superintendent, which with the addition of two new schools to the BRSU, will be divided among seven schools in the upcoming year.

"You will see that in all the BRSU budgets more or less because of the introduction of the Winhall and Mountain Towns RED district to the supervisory union," said French. "The BRSU budget rises in this area but the cost is divided out among all the schools."

Currier Memorial also offers a wide variety of after school programs that are funded primarily though grants.

"We have three focuses," said Richards-Peelle. "Education, recreation, and enrichment. We start our daycare at 7 a.m. and end at 8 a.m., just before school starts and 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., after school. Programs range with the days, each day offers something different. We have a Homework club that offers tutoring support, basketball is in full swing. We really have a lot of different things, which is always good for the kids."


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