LISBON – Thanks to an unexpected 6.6 percent reduction by the School Department’s health insurance carrier, taxpayers can expect to see little or no increase in the tax rate, residents learned at the third and final session of town meeting Wednesday night.

School officials did not learn of the reduction until after the town meeting warrant articles were completed and sent to the printer, Superintendent Shannon Welsh said.

The first time most voters heard about the reduction was when School Committee member Harold Moran proposed to reduce the personnel (salaries and benefits) line in the elementary program from $3,430,758 to $3,397,996, the first of six school funding articles that were reduced for a total saving of $97,000 over what had been proposed.

When asked how the changes would affect the tax rate, which is currently $25.25, Town Manager Curtis Lunt was unprepared to give an exact figure, responding that he was hoping for something between “0 percent and 1 percent.”

A total budget of $12,757,652 includes all state and federal receipts, debt service, unexpected balances and the local tax appropriation. Last year’s budget was $12,186,584.

Parents, students and coaches successfully convinced voters to allocate an additional $10,000 in the co-curricular account to support the hockey and tennis programs. Up until the present time the programs were funded through fund-raisers and contributions, voters were told. The hockey program has been in existence for 30 years, it was stated, and when first started it was through a donation by the late Dr. Joseph Mendes.

“All we’re asking for is fairness,” said one mother.

Former School Committee member Layne Curtis who proposed the expenditure, said the request had been considered by the School Committee twice, was defeated on a split vote of 2-2 with four members present the first time, and turned down 2-2 again, when a fifth member abstained.

Voters refused to add between $12,000 and $13,000 for landscaping at the new elementary school. Although it was in the original plans, it was taken out by the state. Faye Brown, who heads up the Green Thumb Gang that does most of the town gardens, suggested that the school should have a program involving the children in the landscaping, that it would teach them about plants and the environment.

Additional money was approved for oil to keep Lisbon Elementary heated after it’s closed until a final decision is made on the disposition of building.

The town will get more money than anticipated from the state, $6,031,535 for school operations and $520,408 for debt service. Local share of the foundation allocation to be raised in taxation, $3,360,996; and additional location funds, $2,086,053.

The total budget approved for the coming year, $12,757,652, which includes all state and federal receipts and local tax appropriations. Broken down, elementary programs, $3,504,711; secondary education, $2,013,998; support services, $1,364,978; special education, $1,985,779; co-curricular, $369,747; school lunch program, $330,918; general administration, $597,559. Also, maintenance of plant, $1,864,994 (some of which will come from undesignated funds, sometimes referred to as surplus); student transportation, $537,968; technology $50,000; curriculum materials, $55,000. Adult education, $141,791, of which $72,755 will come from taxation. Attendance was 141, down from 158 Tuesday and 203 Monday. There are approximately 6,000 registered voters.

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