PERU – Voters will hit the polls from noon to 8 p.m. Monday, June 30, at the Rockemeka Hall for Peru School’s Budget Referendum.

Earlier this month, Superintendent John Turner, the School Committee and selectmen unanimously approved the proposed $2 million-plus 2003-04 school budget.

This year’s budget of $2,080,285 represents a 4.64 percent increase over last year. Insurance hikes and negotiated contracts account for the increase.

“We have seen significant increases in all areas of insurance, which the companies attribute to nine-eleven,” Turner said. “As examples, property insurance is up 31 percent, bus insurance 34 percent, unemployment compensation insurance up 37 percent, and we have 15 percent built in for medical insurance. These increases are in addition to last year’s increases of 25 percent for health insurance, 50 percent for workers’ compensation, and 30 percent on property.”

The budget increase of $92,000 and a $26,000 decrease in state aid means an increased tax burden of $118,000, above last year’s $62,768, and to be raised locally without state aid.

“This year it is necessary for Peru to raise a total of $180,768 in local money without state participation,” Turner said.

As a result, taxpayers would see an increase of about $50,768, which equals 75 cents per thousand dollars of valuation for a $15.75 mill rate.

Residents will also be asked to appropriate and authorize $14,000 from the bus capital reserve fund as down payment on a new 84-passenger Bluebird diesel school bus to replace the 1988 GMC bus.

“This account will be reimbursed by the state beginning in 2004-05 and will not affect the total budget funds the town is asking to raise, nor does it have any effect on the tax rate,” Turner added.

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