Guilford budget heads to referendum April 21

Published: Wednesday, April 8, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — The town’s proposed $77.12 million budget advanced to referendum with no changes Tuesday, as the minimum number of voters needed to amend the proposal was not reached at the annual budget meeting.

About 200 people attended the meeting, less than the 300 necessary to reduce the amount of the proposed 2009-10 budget.

The budget referendum is scheduled for April 21 at the fire headquarters, 390 Church St.

Also, three bonding resolutions automatically advanced to referendum. They would appropriate $810,000 for two new fire and public works trucks, $1.55 million for new roofs at Guilford Lakes School and Calvin Leete School, and $998,750 for repairs at Elisabeth C. Adams Middle School.

The $77.12 million proposal includes $27.28 million for town operations and $49.84 million for the school district.

Several people commented on the budget proposal Tuesday, with many of the comments revolving around the issue of funding for education.

Ray Luden brought a prop to illustrate his thoughts on the budget, wringing out a wet towel into a bucket of water to symbolize the taxpayers’ situation.

Luden said he thought the town and school district should seek concessions from the teachers’ union in order to reduce costs for the coming fiscal year.

“Over and over I hear, ‘It’s about the kids, education, quality instruction and the number of kids per classroom,’” he said. “Is it really about that, or is it about what we are able to do within the confines of the teacher contract?”

David Roberts said that increasing the tax rate would put more of a burden on home-owners. The rate is projected to increase by 7 percent under the proposed budget.

“By keeping hiking the tax rate, it’s sure as hell going to deter businesses from moving here, and that’s going to leave us shouldering an ever greater part of the bill, and that’s going to be a self-perpetuating cycle,” he said.

But Marian Breeze said that deferring expenses or eliminating social service programs could cost the town more in the future.

“Our senior support programs are some of the most generous in the state and we should be proud of that,” Breeze said. “All of these programs keep Guilford safer and more affordable for our senior citizens.”

Chris Moore, founder of the Guilford Parents and Citizens Together political action committee, which is pushing for the budget, said that rejecting the budget could result in layoffs.

“The time is here to decide if we’re willing to spend to get what we want here in Guilford,” Moore said. “This is a budget that has already been cut significantly, that has no more room to move except on personnel.”

Voting on the four questions is set for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 21. All five voting districts will vote at fire headquarters.

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