CABOT – While the proposed town and highway budgets in Cabot are both lower than the current ones, the planned school budget for next year is up more than 10 percent. Residents on Town Meeting Day will vote on a school budget of $3,669,885, which is $337,105, or 10.1 percent, more than the current budget. The new budget would result in a tax rate increase of 29 cents, or 16.8 percent. That means the property taxes on a home worth $100,000 would rise by $292. According to school officials, $134,499 of the budget increase is due to more students needing contracted special education services. The school is also budgeting $64,317 for a new elementary school guidance counselor and $36,098 for hiring a part-time Community Connections coordinator for the after-school program. Contracted salary and benefits increases for teachers account for an additional $39,488 in new spending. A major reason the tax rate hike is that the proposed budget calls for spending of $18,805 per equalized pupil. That's nearly $1,000 more that the state threshold of $17,816 per equalized pupil, triggering a penalty to the school. Without that penalty, the tax rate increase would be 11 percent instead of 16.8 percent, according to school officials. In addition to voting on the school budget, residents will also be asked to approve a $200,000 bond request that would fund the replacement of the school gymnasium roof. As for the municipal budget, the town plans to spend $717,300 in the next fiscal year, which is $82,322, or 10.3 percent less than the current budget. The main reason for the decrease is the new budget doesn't include $90,000 that was used to make improvements in the past year to the Willey Building and the Masonic Hall. The proposed highway budget is $796,500, which is $860,200, or a whopping 51.9 percent less than the current budget. The main reason: the town spent $958,100 on highway projects last year, the majority of which involved paving roads, and only $57,500 in highway work has been proposed for the coming year. For elected positions, incumbent interim school board member Rory Thibault is being challenged by Cynthia Davis for the remaining year of a two-year term. Incumbent school board member Sharon O'Connor is being challenged by Adam Overbay for her 3-year seat and Jeremiah Breer and Brigitte Codling are looking to take over for Jackie Folsom, who is not seeking re-election to her two-year seat. Select Board members Edward “Ted” Domey and Michael Hogan are running unopposed for their two-year and three-year seats, respectively. All votes will be cast by Australian ballot, with the exception of electing a moderator, hearing reports from town officers, and deciding on when taxes will need to be paid. Voting takes place at the Cabot School gymnasium from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 6.

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