The revised 2018 budget of $9,376,820 is $815,861 lower than the current year’s budget, and will result in a homestead tax rate increase of 37 cents in Whitingham and 16 cents in Wilmington. The latest budget is about $68,703 lower than the budget proposed at Town Meeting. Board members approved the additional cuts at a board meeting two weeks ago. According to Twin Valley School Board Chair Seth Boyd, most of the cuts were line items related to books equipment, supplies, maintenance, and utilities. “It’s what I would call miscellaneous items,” Boyd said. “It won’t change programming or staffing.”
Boyd noted, however, that many of the cuts, such as cuts in equipment purchases, books, and other supplies, are not permanent – at some point in the future the district will need to make the purchases.
The $68,000 cut has a “multiplier effect,” reducing the Act 68 excess spending penalty by the same figure. But Boyd said both towns are in the “penalty box.”
The board’s initial 2018 proposed budget was voted down by Town Meeting day voters in both Whitingham and Wilmington. Although the board had reduced its overall expenditures by more more than $260,000 over the current year and shifted another $500,000 out of the budget, taxpayers in both towns were facing a substantial increase in their homestead tax rates.
Whitingham Selectboard members urged their constituents to vote the budget down, hoping to send a message to Montpelier. Although the tax increase in Wilmington was lower, some suggested that they, too, should vote down the budget in solidarity with their partner town. At the time, however, current and former legislators said the message would only be heard in Montpelier if a significant number of school districts turned down their budgets on Town Meeting day. Boyd noted that few other districts turned down their budgets this year. “We’re asking for everyone’s support in passing the budget this time,” he said.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article included the wrong date for the budget vote.