The Mettawee School District board approved a budget that decreases the voted school budget 3.4 percent. Despite the reduced budget, the school equalized tax rate will go down 3.7 cents in Rupert but increase 2.5 cents in Pawlet.
Sue Wilborn, business manager, for the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union, said belt-tightening, reduction in staff and surplus from the current year budget are all helping, while the state’s property yield and reduction in Act 46 incentive counteract the reductions.
“The board has reduced expenditures enough to show a reduction in education spending,” Wilborn said. “The state recommending a reduction in the property yield, which by itself increases the tax rate.”
So, although the budget is decreased by $198,469, there is a decrease in revenue of $82,780 resulting in a decrease in education spending of $115,689.
The district is also applying an anticipated surplus of $161,520 to reduce education spending, the overall education spending goes down by $277,209.
However, a decrease in the property yield and a reduction in the Act 46 incentive from 4 cents to 2 cents work to drive up the tax rate.
Wilborn said the reduction in the budget is primarily due to the reduction in staffing and the return of surplus from both the BRSU general budget and the special education fund.
The Mettawee School District was reduced by one teacher and one paraeducator through attrition, and one teacher who will be retiring at the end of the year and two more paraeducators positions were reduced due to changes in needs.
In all, the budget has been reduced by five positions.
Wilborn told the board at its meeting Monday it was doing what it could to control the tax rate.
“The things you have control over, you’re decreasing,” Wilborn said. “After that, the state takes over.”
All the details of the budget will be available in the annual report that will be mailed to Pawlet and Rupert voters in February.
The budget will be voted on by Australian ballot this year.
There will be an information meeting Feb. 24 via Zoom. Voters will be able to call in and listen to a presentation on the budget and ask questions.
There will be two seats on the ballot this year, one in Rupert and one in Pawlet.
Diane Mach said she will not be seeking re-election in Pawlet. Anyone who would like to run for the seat does not have to submit a petition this year but will need to file a consent form to be placed on the ballot. Information is available from town clerks, the BRSU and the secretary of state’s office.