Board aims to stay level

More control of budget process sought by officials

MILFORD – The School Board will be looking for a fairly level budget this year as it gets ready for the 2017 school elections.

In March, voters reject­ed the district’s operating budget for the second year in a row, and board Chair­man Paul Dargie said at a recent meeting that this year the board will take greater control early in the budget process.

"I’d like to see us tilt back a little toward more conservative numbers," he said. "Taxpayers weren’t as well represent­ed" in the last budget.

The initial budget should come in "at the bottom-line dollar value" of a traditional default budget, he said. And the default budget should be calculated as most school districts do it, by including expenses in the current year’s budget along with any manda­tory changes, such as pay increases from collective bargaining, and minus one-time expenses.

In the past, Milford has considered positions eliminated in the budget a "one-time expense," which Dargie called a loophole that no other districts use, and Milford shouldn’t.

This year the budget will probably reflect theelimination of four po­sitions, in line with de­clining enrollments. Last year, there were 4.5 posi­tions cut for the same rea­son.

The proposal for tuition-based, full-day kindergarten will be eval­uated separately, Dargie said, and on its own mer­its.

From a taxpayer’s per­spective, he said, "It is pretty much a wash."

Dargie also laid out ideas for the board’s bud­get development sched­ule.

During the first meeting in November, administra­tors will offer a proposed budget. About two weeks after that, the board will meet with the Budget Committee on a Satur­day for five hours, and in December, the board will meet to try to finalize the spending plan and all warrant articles.

The board voted unani­mously to approve the guidelines.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.