Boards ready budgets for town vote

Residents filled the meeting room at the Sharon Town Hall on Friday, April 26, for the annual Board of Finance public hearing on the FY25 budgets proposed by the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education.

Leila Hawken

Boards ready budgets for town vote

SHARON — A well-attended public hearing convened by the Board of Finance on Friday, April 26, heard residents’ comments on the 2024-25 budgets proposed by the Board of Education and the Board of Selectmen. Barbara Prindle served as moderator for the hearing.

Following the public hearing, the finance board met to discuss the questions raised by residents and voted unanimously that the budgets would proceed on to town vote at the annual Town Meeting scheduled for Friday, May 10, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Reviewing the Board of Education proposed budget at the hearing was education board chairman Doug Cahill who said that his board continues to review expenses on an ongoing basis.

“This budget is the lowest we can present to the town,” Cahill said, noting that for the first time, capital expenditures are not included in the education budget, having been moved to the town budget.

The Board of Education budget for the coming year totals $4,328,390, a decrease of $185,937 (4.12%) from the current year, partially realized by the removal of capital expenditures. 106 students in Pre-K through Grade 8 are currently enrolled at Sharon Center School, Cahill noted.

The Board of Selectmen’s budget was presented by First Selectman Casey Flanagan.

“The selectmen devoted many hours going over each line to determine a budget that was fair to the town and to the employees,” Flanagan said.

The Board of Selectmen budget for the coming year totals $4,969,207, an increase of $262,630 (5.58%) over the current year, after expected revenues are included.

Residents’ questions sought clarification of line-item increases, including the ongoing tree removal program targeting hazardous and diseased trees, supported by state funding.

“Every time the wind blows, there are trees down, and if wires are involved, fires,” Flanagan said. “My hope is that we can get on top of this in a few years,” he added.

Considering the Hotchkiss Library’s request for increased funding, the board noted that the library had asked for $150,000 but received $118,500.

Flanagan reported it was the selectmen’s feeling that the initial request was high, although he acknowledged the important role of the library in the community. He added that the selectmen felt that a steady rate of increase, perhaps 10% annually, over the coming years would be a better option.

In other action, the Board of Finance approved the capital expenditure plans for both boards to be voted on at the annual town meeting.

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