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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

With Emotion, RTM Approves $109.2M School Budget

By James Lomuscio

UPDATE (fixes Weber inflation quote)  After almost two-and-a-half hours of exhaustive debate and, at times, unbridled emotion, Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) tonight approved the Board of Education’s $109.2 million operating budget for 2014-15—a total of $121.65 million including the school system’s debt service and aid to private and parochial schools—by a vote of 32 to 2 with 1 abstention. Image
A motion to cut the Board of Education budget by $200,000 by freshman RTM member Rick J. Weber, District 9 (above), set off a more than two-hour debate. It eventually was defeated 28 to 7. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Following that vote, the RTM voted 34 to 0 with 1 abstention to approve the overall 2014-15 town operating budget of $198,249,184, including $76.59 million budget approved by the legislative body Monday night.

The school board’s operating budget, which had unanimous support from the RTM’s Education and Finance committees, had at first seemed a slam dunk until freshman RTM member Rick J. Weber, District 9, proposed a $200,000 cut. Weber argued that the 4.8 percent increase was part of a pattern of school budget requests that had a compounded annual growth rate of 4.19 percent over the past 11 years.

“We need to slow down the rate of school growth of our budget, and I would like to see it begin next year with a 3 (percent) instead of a 4,” Weber said.

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