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Pembroke to hold special meeting on school budget shortfall Monday

Union Leader Correspondent

December 01. 2017 8:02PM
Pembroke Academy (MELISSA PROULX/Union Leader Correspondent file photo)

PEMBROKE — Answers about a school district budget shortfall have been hard to come by, according to some town officials.

At its Thursday night meeting, the town’s budget committee was told that school officials are continuing to look into the matter and figure out what went wrong.

A special meeting will be held on Monday at Pembroke Academy starting at 6:30 p.m. That meeting is meant to be centered around both the current and proposed budgets.

Some budget committee members said they’re losing confidence in the school district and its ability to answer questions about the issue.

“I don’t find that credible,” said Gerry Fleury, vice chair of the budget committee. “I have the sense we’re being put off.”

Fleury also said he’s concerned about the budget freeze and whether or not discretionary spending is going to make a difference.

With discussions about next year’s budget scheduled to begin at the end of the month, others are stressing the importance of getting a handle on the situation sooner rather than later to ensure the same mistakes aren’t made again.

Dave Doherty, one of the school board members on the budget committee, said school administrators are also hoping to answer more questions about the issue at the Monday meeting.

“This is a high priority and I’m confident they’re going to be able to get all these questions answered,” Doherty said.

About $977,000 will need to be raised through this upcoming tax bill to cover a deficit in the school district’s budget. The first estimate had put that number closer to $1.7 million.

This is due to an overestimation about how much revenue the district was supposed to bring in at the end of the fiscal year.

Tuition costs are a primary component of the shortfall, with about a $737,000 loss from what was estimated.

For the last few months, residents have voiced their outrage over the matter, saying they need more information as to why this happened and that there needs to be more severe consequences.

“If something happened like this in a regular job, somebody would have been fired,” said resident Diana Young.

Protesting the increase is not the way to go, said Town Administrator David Jodoin. If taxes are not paid in full by the due date, 12 percent interest starts to accrue.

By February, if that balance still remains, residents will be notified that they could have a lien put on their property, which would adjust the interest rate up to 18 percent, he said.

Jodoin said town officials are doing their part to help save some money for residents in the upcoming budgets as well on their end.

“I’ve made $51,000 worth of cuts in my (proposed) budget alone,” he said.

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