ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen and Finance Committee on Monday reviewed an amended Adams-Cheshire Regional School District budget that has maintained a 1.77 percent increase.
The joint meeting was held to look over the fiscal 2020, $20 million school spending plan and review a change made to mitigate an assessment formula error.
"We definitely appreciate the opportunity to clear any errors that were made from the initial budget presentation and present some slight changes to you," Superintendent John Vosburgh said. "Whenever any of us make a mistake we take it personally we don't want to tarnish relationships with the towns."
Business Manager Erika Snyder said instead of using the district-required minimum contribution number in the town assessment calculations, she used the mandated local contribution from the towns — as she has done in the past.
"Although it says town-required local contribution it is not just the towns' local contribution for us, which is where the mistake on my part was made assuming that this pertained strictly to the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District," she said. "The town-required local contribution represents the town minimal contribution for all districts which belong, which includes us and McCann [Technical School]."
Instead of using $3,757,565 (the district required minimum contribution) Snyder said she used the town-required local contribution of $4,544,723.
"The larger number was used for the minimum pushing less into the over minimum," she said. "When we reduce that number, more gets pushed into that bucket that is assessed at the 75/25 enrollment split."
Snyder said the new numbers would increase Adams' assessment, however, the plan is to use the excess and deficiency account and other revenues to keep the Adams assessment the same as originally proposed.
"This decreased the amount of foundation that is assessed to both towns so it doesn't change our budget," she said. "It just reduced the amount of foundation that is filtered through to the towns."
The bottom line of the budget will not change.
Adams' total assessment within the levy limit will remain $5,140,669 while Cheshire will see a decrease and a new assessment of $2,499,682.
She said this mistake also occurred in the fiscal year 2019 budget and there is a near $107,000 discrepancy between the town assessments that the district will try to correct within the current budget.
Snyder said she is currently in touch with the state to see what options the district has.
"We want to see if we can resolve this in the same manner ... we may have the opportunity to mitigate that error with revenues on our end and appropriating some more from E and D," she said. "But I don't want to go down one path until what we know what those paths are."
Vosburgh thanked Snyder for investigating the issue immediately and said she went far beyond what a typical business manager would do.
Snyder added that in her conversations with the state Department of Education, it was noted that the change in format was not clear.
"It has been helpful to them that I reached out, and the person I spoke to was not aware that the format on that page had changed," she said. "They understood how that mistake could be made and assumed there were other districts that have made the same mistake so they want to make it more clear going forward."
Snyder said she would inform the Selectmen what options it has to right the fiscal 2019 budget once she hears back from the state.
The Finance Committee then reviewed the actual budget that has no real additions but maintains what the district currently has in terms of positions and programming.
Funds were optimized and a reading interventionist and learning lab teacher were added and increases were driven by fixed costs and contractual increases.
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A petition is asking officials to slow down approval of the zoning amendment until it can be reviewed more fully.
ADAMS, Mass. — Residents remain wary of a proposal to adopt the state's 40R legislation that would provide incentives for reusing old buildings for both the town and developers.
But Tuesday's more than two-hour meeting explaining step by step the statute, the definitions, and how a Smart Growth Overlay District would work seemed to temper some of the controversy.
"None of us will leave until we have every question at least answered," said Town Administrator Jay Green to the well-attended gathering at the Visitors Center. "You may not like the answer. You may not agree with it, but we're going to answer the question for you."
The town's consideration of the 15-year-old Chapter 40R caused an uproar over the past couple months as many residents believed it referred to public or low-income housing. A number of posts on Facebook detailed problems with area public housing developments that are not 40R and expressed worry that the town would become a magnet for low-income housing.
But Tuesday's more than two-hour meeting explaining step by step the statute, the definitions, and how a Smart Growth Overlay District would work seemed to tamp down some of the controversy.
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