BARRE — City councilors have taken care of the last bit of business needed to pave the way for a high-stakes special election next month.
Based on the council’s action Tuesday night there will be three questions on the ballot May 14. Voters will be asked to approve revised budgets for the city and its central elementary school, as well as funding for a school-based police officer. The combined requests total more than $23 million and would collectively add just over 6 cents to the local tax rate.
Voters were facing a 13-cent rate hike on Town Meeting Day when they rejected every major budget proposal on the ballot, as well as funding for the school resource officer and a number of other smaller requests.
Though the $12.3 million budget for Spaulding High School was defeated decisively in Barre, it passed by a slightly wider margin in Barre Town, and it won’t need to be revoted next month.
The budgets for the city and its elementary school both will.
Barely 24 hours after the Barre City School Board finalized its revised budget request — a $12.88 million spending plan that includes $725,000 in grant money that won’t affect the local tax rate — the council followed suit, formalizing its earlier decision to lop $183,000 from the budget that voters resoundingly rejected, 752-386, last month.
Councilors have treated that vote as a referendum on their split decision to include funding for two new police officers in the budget presented on Town Meeting Day.
The $10.3 million proposal that the council formally adopted Tuesday night deletes funding for those two new positions. If approved next month it is expected to add about 4.7 cents to the tax rate, or $94 to the tax bill on a home valued at $200,000.
The revised budget is identical to the one recommended by a citizens committee that reviewed this year’s spending request during several meetings with City Manager Steve Mackenzie.
Mayor Thomas Lauzon said Tuesday he would like the committee to play a lead role explaining the budget. That, he said, includes making the presentation at a joint forum planned for 6:30 p.m. May 1 at the Barre Opera House to answer questions about both the municipal and school budgets.
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