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Proposed School District Operating Assessment to Groton Up Nearly 4.5%

Groton Dunstable Regional School Committee held a public hearing Feb. 13 on its proposed budget for fiscal 2014 which runs from July 2013 to June 2014. The proposed budget includes a modest increase in the operating budget and reverses a four-year trend of level-funded or declining budgets. Total budget which includes operating expenses and debt service is proposed to increase two percent to $35.5 million. Operating expenses by itself (which makes up the bulk of the 2014 budget) totals $31.9 million, up 2.3 percent while debt service totals $3.6 million, down slightly by $86,000.

While the total proposed 2014 budget is up slightly by 2.3 percent, the assessments to member towns - Groton and Dunstable - will increase approximately four percent. It is assessments to the towns that impact the local tax rate as Groton and Dunstable must raise and appropriate the amounts assessed. As proposed, assessments to both Groton and Dunstable total $21.3 million which includes $19.6 million for operating expenses and $1.6 million for debt service.

Groton's assessment will account for approximately 75 percent of total assessments because Groton's enrollment in the school district approximates 75 percent of all students in the district. Under the proposed budget, Groton's assessment to the school budget will total $15.9 million which includes operating expenses and debt service. That is up nearly $612,000 over fiscal 2013 and represents a four percent increase in the town's assessment.

The Town Manager's budget for fiscal 2014 had forecast only a 2.5 percent increase for Groton's assessment. The school budget and Groton's assessment had been part of the discussion at Special Town Meeting in January when financing the proposed new fire station was decided.

The School Committee held a public hearing on their proposed budget last Wednesday evening, Feb. 13. After public input from the hearing, the School Committee is expected to certify their budget on Feb. 27. After certification, the school budget will go to Annual Town Meeting as part of the town budget in April for voter approval.

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