LISBON — A school budget for fiscal year 2015-16 will go before voters for the fourth time on Nov. 3 — this time for $15.01 million. Voters rejected similar budgets in June, August and September, saying they were too low.

Town councilors, School Committee members and townspeople are hoping that the November election will put an end to the divide between the Town Council and the School Committee over the school budget.

The School Committee and some townspeople feel they are not being heard and want the Town Council to increase the school budget. In a 142-452 vote on Sept. 22, residents rejected the budget, saying it was too low. But Town Council Chairman Dillon Pesce has said that this represented a special-interest group and was not the voice of the townspeople. The 594 people who voted are only 9 percent of registered voters.

In each of the three budget validation referendums since June, voters said the budget was too low. However, each time, the Town Council proposed a budget lower than that recommended by the School Committee, holding to its original directive in January that the School Committee was to cut $600,000 from the amount the town was to raise above that, required under state law.

The Town Council has held firm that the school budget was not just to be flat, but was to be reduced, to help ease the tax burden on townspeople. The council had also directed the town manager to cut $300,000 from the municipal budget. That budget was approved with cuts of more than $340,000.

Since the original budget proposed in June, the state passed its budget, resulting in a higher amount of funding to the school district, therefore increasing the total budget proposed for the Sept. 11 election. The Town Council has proposed the same budget for the Nov. 3 budget validation referendum, which is $105,428 higher than the original proposed budget in June.

Under the town’s charter, the last proposed school budget by the Town Council is the budget the School Committee is required to operate under until a budget is approved by voters. That budget is currently the budget that was approved on Oct. 7, just over $15 million, that will go before voters Nov. 3.

The Town Council committed taxes in August — therefore, the amount of the budget cannot be higher during this fiscal year, according to Pesce. It can only be lower.

Date School Committee recommended Town Council proposed
Sept. 22 $15.272 million $15.038 million
Aug. 11 $15.301 million $14,884 million
June 9 $15.332 million $14.932 million

Town Council-proposed budgets defeated at each of these budget validation referendums with voters saying the budget was too low in a nonbinding question on the warrant.      

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