The third ratification vote for the Monmouth school budget is for a budget that is even higher than the one town residents originally rejected. It represents an increase of 6.9 percent. The big difference is that the Monmouth School Department has “found” $158,000 in “previously unavailable revenue” that it is nobly willing to apply to this year’s property taxes.

I can’t possibly attempt to follow the department’s math, but it is reporting that, as a result, this year’s 6.9 percent budget increase will hold down property taxes substantially. It is a one-time tax deferment. Taxpayers will owe the full amount next year.

Monmouth schools have enjoyed the strong support of taxpayers for many years. I didn’t have any children in the school system in 1989, but I supported the construction of the new Monmouth Academy and most of the budget increases put forward year after year since then.

This year is different.

Energy costs alone are enough to make anyone on a real budget pull the straps tight.

Whose income goes up 4 percent or more every year?

This is not the year for another 6.9 percent school budget increase.

In light of the 5 percent expected drop in K-12 enrollments, why not a zero-based budget for once?

Neil Duggan, Monmouth

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