Budget Busting School Needs on the Horizon

Tonight’s Rochester Selectmen’s Meeting was consumed with budgeting processes from the town’s 2015 fiscal budget to the schools beginning their budget planning for the coming year.  With massive anticipated budget increases for both Rochester Memorial School and the town’s portion of the ORR District balance sheet, Town Administrator Richard LaCamera said, “…its impossible.”  Rochester Memorial is anticipated to have an increase of $254,000, while ORR District will have a whopping $800,000 increase on the price tag of its budget.  Rochester’s assessment would be $292,000.  Given that the town’s fiscal budget is planned to be modest, LaCamera said that there is lots of work to be done.

LaCamera presented the Selectmen with the town’s fiscal budget including actuals from previous years by department.  He noted that the town may expect modest revenue increases from receipts to the tune of $500,000, with a total annual budget of 18.937 million dollars.  He said that all departments understood that the ’15 budget would be flat to only 2% increases however several were quite a bit over that sum.  As examples he pointed out requested increases from assessor’s office 14%, fire department 37% and EMS 29%.  State aid, which has been known to help soften the blow of increasing operating costs is not expected to take care of everything.

The school committees have all asked that the town to send representatives from the Finance Committee and some from the Board of Selectmen as well to help them achieve a working budget that can be managed.  Bradford Morse will attend the ORR District meeting with one of the Finance Committee members while Naida Parker will participate with the Rochester Memorial School Sub-committee.  Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School has requested a representative from the Rochester Finance Committee.

In other business the board will be requesting technical assistance and completing application(s) from SRPEDD.  In the past this assistance has helped the town with by-laws for farming and affordable housing planning.

Buzzards Bay Coalition has given the green light for well testing that is situated near restricted conservation lands in Rochester.  The parcel was described as the former Rentumis property located off Perry Hill Road.  The testing is to determine if new wells might be viable in that location.  The coalition cleared the well testing site noting that, “…should the test well work move unexpectedly onto the former Rentumis property…conservation restriction allows for work of this type and magnitude to take place on the property; specifically as it pertains to exploration for and construction of public drinking water supply…”  The property line will be flagged by BBC for reference prior to the testing.

The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for January 27 at 7pm.

By Marilou Newell

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