AYER — The $10,905,950 FY09 budget the School Committee approved doesn’t sit well with interim Superintendent of Schools George Frost. He submitted a $12 million budget proposal, and he still stands by it.
At the April 2 School Committee meeting, the board voted in the lower figure. It’s a compromise that could have been worse, they said. The town proffered a total of $8,775,958 based on projected revenue. The difference is “school side revenue” the FinCom agreed on, Frost said.
Talk then turned to the current fiscal year, which ends in June.
“As you know, things got bleaker during … March,” Frost said. “In light of extraordinary expenses since the first of the year, I will propose … to go to the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen for an emergency reserve fund transfer.”
The shortfall is $56,302. An itemized list shows the troubles the district has had to deal with since January.
A broken water main at the middle school/high school cost $11,568 to repair, followed by repairs to the building’s air circulation pump for $6,794. Fixing the fuel pump at Page Hilltop added another $4,120, coupled with frozen pipes and leaks at the school for an added $1,163.
Then came the oil delivery. With prices tilting the scales at over $3 per gallon and a 10,000-gallon tank to fill, the cost hit hard. It was $32,657.
Given that utility costs are expected to stay high or keep rising, Frost said the shortfall will likely get worse before the fiscal year ends. Projecting added costs of approximately $15,500, he proposed submitting a reserve fund transfer request for $71,852.
“That would get us through the end of the year,” he said. If it turns out the estimate’s too high, the surplus would go back to the town, he said.
But Chairman Daniel Sallet questioned the wisdom of a preemptive move. In the spirit of cooperation that’s characterized the budget-building process so far, he said he’d rather ask for help based on actual rather than projected expenses.
After mulling a two-tiered bid, the board agreed to go for actual expenses, with the understanding that Frost might come back with another request by the end of the year. The amount will be about $15,500, which FinCom could earmark for the schools.