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March 05. 2013 9:14PM

Higher retirement costs drive Hopkinton tax rise

HOPKINTON - A short warrant awaits voters in the Hopkinton School District at the annual meeting Saturday, with discussion about the operating budget and a support staff contract topping the list.

The proposed operating budget for the district comes in at $17,640,137 which represents an increase of $462,469 over last year's budget. The major increases in the budget come as the result of higher retirement payments, which have risen by almost $269,000 since the state down-shifted retirement costs to the towns and cities in New Hampshire, as well as special education costs totaling $186,000, $55,000 for new equipment and materials for a new math program that will cost 40,000.

To offset the cost increases, the Hopkinton School Board has reduced the budget by removing the driver's education program - a $75,000 annual expenditure - and lowering the anticipated costs of fuel and electricity by around $7,000.

The increase in the operating budget, if unchanged at district meeting, will increase the tax rate by 67 cents per thousand dollars of appraised property value, or $201 on a $300,000 home.

The school district is also seeking the approval of a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the support staff, which would cost $68,357 in the first year, $66,209 the second year, and $47,911 the third year.

The first year of the contract would increase the tax rate by 10 cents per thousand, or $30 on a $300,000 home.

The school board is recommending the addition of $50,000 to place in the district's general contingency fund to meet the cost of any unanticipated expenses that may arise during the school year.

There is also a request to add $10,000 to the district's vehicle replacement capital reserve fund, and $10,000 to the health insurance trust fund which helps offset unexpected increases in health care premiums. Another $50,000 is being sought for the school building repair and maintenance trust.

The capital reserve requests, if approved, will increase the tax rate by 20 cents per thousand dollars of valuation, or $60 on a $300,000 home.

Hopkinton School District meeting will be held at the high school at 9 a.m. Saturday.

nfoster@newstote.com


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