“We may have to fund this at the state level rather than put it all on the (local) taxpayer,” Lavoie said.
The school committee unanimously voted the budget on April 1, which represents an $800,000 increase over the previous year’s appropriation and is consistent with the city’s historical school spending increases. Unfunded mandates from the state have continued to increase however and while the city’s Chapter 70 reimbursement from the state rose this year, the city still receives more than $1 million less that it did 15 years ago in which time the state education aid has declined from 54 percent of district spending to 31 percent.
“This is a serious problem that shows no signs of abating and that cries for a permanent solution at the state level,” Mayor Gray wrote in his budget summary letter.
Roughly 20 people took in the hearing with some carrying pre-printed signs advocating support of Amesbury schools bearing the logo of I Am Pro Amesbury, a local political action committee that supported former mayor Thatcher Kezer and some of the school committee members and councilors in the last election.
Mayor Gray said the budget proposal for his office is $195,862, which is down $7,820 from last year’s appropriation.
The legal services budget remained from last year at $100,300.