BETHEL — Town Manager Jim Doar got some good news last week from SAD 44 officials and he’ll share it with selectmen at their 7 p.m. meeting on Monday, May 9, in the town office.

When the board recently worked through the proposed municipal budget, he said school officials didn’t yet have “good numbers” for the school assessment.

However, now they do and they’re lower than what Doar anticipated, although he didn’t reveal them late Friday afternoon. He’ll do that at Monday night’s board meeting.

Compared to what the initial estimate was, the tax rate will drop, but this year it’s going up from the current $11 per $1,000 of valuation, Doar said.

“When we went through the budget, we thought it was going to go up to $12.28, but that was with the old school numbers,” he said.

“With the good news from the school, we think it will go from $11 to $11.66. That’s about half of what we thought it was going to do,” he said. “So it’s great news.”

Now it’s up to selectmen to decide if they want to revisit some of their recommendations due to the change or just let them ride through town meeting on June 15.

For example, Doar said they are recommending that voters agree to take $100,000 from the undesignated fund balance to buy down the tax rate. However, since the school numbers came in lower, he said selectmen may want to reduce that surplus dipping.

“If the selectmen and the Budget Committee didn’t do anything, the mill rate would drop compared to what we thought it would be, not compared to what it is now,” Doar said.

“It’s still going up now. I just wanted to throw the numbers out to them and say, ‘This is good news we got from the school, and do you want to meet with the Budget Committee and do something different?’”

If any changes are anticipated, selectmen would have to meet with the Budget Committee and go over the numbers again. But Doar said he’s unsure even of that.

“Maybe the selectmen just want to say, ‘No, we like the way it is. It’s just good news, let’s take it and run with it,’ or they might say, ‘Yeah, let’s take another look at the budget,’” he said

“It’s better than what we thought it was going to be. Usually it’s not good news from the school, but we got good news this time.”

“If the selectmen let it ride, we’ll do that,” he said.

The board isn’t expected to finalize its proposed municipal budget recommendations until their regular meeting on Monday, May 23.

Among the many other agenda items are a preliminary review of the annual town meeting warrant, authorizing the Fiscal Year 2011 audit by Keel Hood, dispositions of the town safe in the police department and tax-acquired property at 37 Balsam Road, and the Vernon Street Pumping Station replacement.

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