School spending will continue to be monitored by the town’s finance director following the decision of Judge Brian Stern in Superior Court yesterday.
In December, the when the school committee approved expenditures after the discovery a , due in part to an unanticipated revenue shortfall. The town’s finance director warned the committee against spending while projecting a deficit, citing state law.
The court found that the town’s argument that, under state law, school spending must be reviewed and authorized by the town's finance director until the projected deficit is eliminated.
The school department, however, asserted that the town was responsible for making up the lost revenue – citing a case out of Tiverton.
Since December, the town and school department have worked together under a court-approved consent agreement to solve the revenue shortfall.
“I feel like we have done a lot to show that we have cut our spending,” said School Superintendent Phil Auger. “Without any help from the court, the deficit has gone down to about $250,000.”
According to Auger, the shrinking deficit is due in part to spending freezes and this winter’s unusually warm temperatures, which have kept heating costs low.
In late December, the school department to remedy the possible shortfall to the state’s auditor general. They are still awaiting a response.
The court also decided that the town's appropriation for the school department's budget is $58,092,043 – the original amount appropriated. According to Auger, the department may not be in danger of a revenue shortfall now that the original appropriation has been restored as the . Auger says the town and school officials will meet next week to determine whether the schools face a deficit.