Town Meeting on Tuesday appropriated about $800,000 to the Blue Hills Regional Technical School, 25 percent more than the requested contribution for fiscal 2011, following much discussion.
Warrant Committee chairman Ewan Innes said the funding increase is due to nine additional Milton students enrolling at the school and capital projects planned for fiscal 2012. He said 48 Milton students attend the school.
Town Counsel John Flynn said that the way the regional district school is funded, six of the nine towns that send students and contribute to the school would have to reject the school's budget, or every one would be required to send the requested contribution. If at least six towns reject the budget, a special Town Meeting to approve the school's new budget proposal would have to take place.
Innes said he believes at least four towns would accept the school's budget proposal because four of the nine towns received a smaller budget request from the school. Therefore, he said, Milton would be required by law to pay up anyway.
Town Meeting voted by majority vote to approve the appropriation.
Some Town Meeting members said they wanted more details about the budget breakdown and the costs per student at the school.
Innes said the Warrant Committee did not meet with school representatives and did not receive a breakdown of the capital projects plan.
Robert Sweeney, Board of Selectmen chairman, said that he would ask the superintendent of the school to meet with the board to give a detailed breakdown of its budget.
Of the 43 articles on the warrant, the only article Town Meeting rejected was whether to accept the state’s option for an early retirement incentive program.
Innes said that because of the restrictions of the legislation, the Warrant Committee doesn’t know how many employees would be eligible for early retirement.
Innes said Town Meeting would have to vote to accept the program, which would then give the Board of Selectmen the authority to approve those eligible employees who accepted an early retirement offer.
Selectman John Michael Shields said that the intent of the legislation was to shrink municipal government, which might not be needed in Milton.
“We’ve gone through many years of cuts, and I don’t think we’re overburdened with town employees,” said Shields. “I think we’re tight as far as people are concerned,”
In other matters, Town Meeting voted to appropriate almost $1 million for the town's stabilization fund.
Innes said that previously the town treated the stabilization and capital stabilization funds as discretionary, but that going forward it plans to recommend putting 0.5 percent of revenues and any unexpected state aid into the funds.
“We’re looking to make a change to go about appropriating monies for reserves,” said Innes.
He said that by appropriating this money, the committee estimates that a tax-limit override of Proposition 2 1/2 wouldn’t be needed until sometime between fiscal 2014 and 2016.
A copy of the town warrant can be found here.
Sarah Favot can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.