The North Kingstown Town Council unanimously passed fiscal 2013’s budget, set to start July 1 of this year, at its meeting Tuesday night. The new budget will increase the tax levy by 2.08 percent, raising property tax rates from $17.26 for every $1,000 to $17.53 – an average annual increase of $90 for the average household’s tax bill in North Kingstown.
The budget also grants the school department a two-percent increase after two years of level-funding. Despite the increase, the school department’s bottom line budget will be $848,349* less than the current year’s budget. The council came to the smaller figure after factoring in its number to offset the (a matter the town is seeking clarification on from the court following Superior Court Judge Brian Stern’s decision last month) and a reduction in projected state aid.
State aid, which was projected at $10,812,936 in the governor’s initial proposed budget, has been decreased by $624,936. According to Town Finance Director Trish Sunderland, a supplemental appropriation will be made if more state aid is distributed to the district.
Originally, the school department had requested a . At Monday night’s council meeting, School Committee Chair Kimberly Page told council members that the difference between the four-percent increase and a two-percent increase was the difference between “mediocre schools and high-achieving schools.”
“If money is the difference in excellence, then the entire state is in trouble because there’s a train wreck coming and we need to start looking at alternatives,” said Council Member Carol Hueston.
According to Superintendent Phil Auger, an appropriation less than that would result in cuts to school extracurricular programs – . Council members believed that cuts could be made elsewhere in the school’s budget to avoid the elimination of those programs.
“I think those savings can be achieved by the school department in ways that don’t impact music and sports,” said Council Member Charles Stamm.
Additionally, the council did not fund the schools’ capital reserve fund, citing the lack of organization and preparation regarding improvement project by the school department as one of the reasons.
“I don’t believe the school committee and school department have done a good job of bringing their projects forward,” said Stamm. “I’m kind of reluctant to put $500,000 into a well and not know what the deuce they’re going to do with it.”
A further motion was unanimously passed that will allow the council to authorize the “strict enforcement” of a section of the town’s charter, which allows the town manager to review and revise allotments of town offices, departments and agencies to “forestalls the making of expenditures in excess of income.” According to Town Manager Michael Embury, the measure “reaffirms” the town’s stance in its most recent legal battle with the school department over its projected revenue deficit.
2011-2012 Budget 2012-2013 Budget Difference General Fund $24,929,211 $26,199,621 +$1,270,410 School Fund
*$58,092,043$57,243,694 -$624,936 Debt Service $5,493,088 $5,484,654 -$8,434 Library Fund $1,420,732 $1,465,091 +$44,359 Municipal Court $247,928 $258,354 +$10,429 School Capital Reserve $117,300 $0 -$117,300 Water Fund $3,096,381 $3,212,163 +$115,882 Quonset/Davisville Recreation Fund $1,792,549 $1,744,386 -$48,163 TOTAL $92,899,823 $95,607,925
*The school department's appropriation for fiscal 2012 was altered by the town to offset a projected deficit. The school's spending plan was slashed by $266,624, making the appropriation $57,825,419. The town and school department are seeking clarification from Judge Brian Stern following his ruling to determine the correct appropriation for the school department.