Schools, Town To Take Budgets to Finance Board

The boards of selectmen and education will present their budgets to the Board of Finance Tuesday night. At present, the education budgets for Botelle Elementary School and Regional School District #7 are driving forces behind the projected $517,698 increase in spending over the current year.

The total Norfolk budget would rise from $8,554,744 to $9,072,442. The town’s assessment for Region #7 is slated to rise $341,751 to a total of $2,146,681, while Botelle’s budget would increase by $230,629 to $2,649,086. These increases are largely based on increasing costs for special education, salaries and rising medical insurance costs.

School costs, which usually account for about 75 percent of the annual budget, force town officials to keep their budgets lean. First Selectman Matt Riiska has pared the municipal budget by nearly $55,000 to $4,276,859. He reduced the budget by nibbling at some line items and eliminating others, such as the $60,000 expended last year to remove dead and dying trees from along town roads.

“The obvious big components are the two schools,” Riiska said this week. “It’s a tough pill to swallow but you’ve got to do it. There’s little you can do about special education. And there will always be increases because of wages, insurance and building maintenance. It’s unlike our regular municipal budget where I can say I won’t do a public works project.”

In cutting his budget to keep taxes as low as possible, Riiska said he took “$15,000 out here and $20,000 out there—it adds up. There’s not a lot taken from any one line item. We might have to put off some things this year, maybe do less road sealing … .”

But, he cautioned, it is not wise to delay maintenance too long. “If it’s left alone, everything will increase in cost,” he said. 

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