With more mandates, but shrinking federal funds, town budgets are now more than ever at the mercy of a number of determinants to plan its pending fiscal year budget.
Higher assessments are never met with cheers, but Town Administrator said the higher-than-expected assessment for Algonquin Regional High School came at a relatively good time, considering.
"There's no way to dance around it," said Coderre at Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting. "It's [the Algonquin assessment] is up about 10 percent ... 9.98 percent."
Superintendent of Schools Charles Gobron said at a school committee meeting that the assessment burden has shifted from Southborough to Northborough, reported The Northborough Daily Voice, and that the state increased its contribution from $600,000 to $800,000.
The school budget for 2014, however, is going up less than four percent, due in part to debt service for the Algonquin building project dropping to about $623,000, or 42 percent, said Coderre.
"There isn't much we can do about this," said Coderre. "It's a Chapter 70 formula. The operating assessment is going up significantly, but the debt service is coming down, so the net effect is about a 1.91 percent increase. The timing of it, if it had to happen, couldn't be better. The net effect is more palatable."
Assessment for Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School is decreasing by $9,700. Assabet, said Coderre, "is almost exclusively based on enrollment."
A "big difference" in the FY2014 budget and budgets for two years prior, added Coderre, is that the town has had to be conservative with state aid, and "we know it is not going to be improving."
"Here we are at the end of February," said Coderre, "and we're just getting the last bits and pieces of our budget. We would like to see the tax impact lower, but it is what it is. The state says you have to pay a minimum contribution."
Selectman Jeff Amberson noted a drastic improvement in communication and rapport with the school department, which has improved the budgeting process immensely.
"As someone who has been on this board for a long time," said Amberson, "I can say that it used to be contentious, but Dr. Gobron and John have worked hard to work together as a team. I'm grateful for the working relationship we have now. It's a great example of how a community should act ... not as separate entitites."