ROWLEY — Faced with potentially substantial increases in their Triton Regional School assessments for another year, selectmen from the district met this week to discuss budgetary concerns and brainstorm possible solutions to the current dismal state of economic affairs facing the towns and schools.
Earlier this month, the Triton Regional School Committee approved a tentative $35,999,989 budget for fiscal year 2013.
The budget is based on increased assessments for the three district towns: $7,927,099, a 6.21 percent increase, for Rowley; $9,104,586, a 3.71 percent increase for Newbury; and $9,403,600, a 5.21 percent increase for Salisbury.
Rowley officials have asked the school administration to reconsider and provide a level-funded budget for next year, while Newbury and Salisbury selectmen said they would be reviewing the school budget with town officials over the next week to determine what they could afford.
"Last year, the taxpayers of both Newbury and Rowley turned down their overrides, and I see no improvement in the general economy that would indicate a change in the taxpayers' attitude this year," Rowley Selectmen Chairman Bob Snow said. "So, the Rowley Board of Selectmen will continue to urge the School Committee to present a level-funded budget; otherwise, I foresee drastic cuts in town services far above last year's 2 percent cut across the board."
Superintendent Christopher Farmer said he understands that no one like to pay more taxes, but the reality is public services in one way or another impact the whole community and are dependent upon sufficient revenues.
"The average family property tax bills of the Triton communities are much lower than the great majority of surrounding communities," Farmer said. "I hope that everyone will consider that as they review the proposed budget."
The area selectmen came to a consensus that going forward, the best way to have better control regarding the school budget, and therefore their own town budgets, was to consider a new tri-town agreement by which each town allots half its budget, including the 21/2 percent state increase and growth in town revenue, to the schools.