Laconia schools looking for another $234k in cuts to get budget within cap

LACONIA — Ed Emond, business administrator of the School District, told the City Council last night that the School Board has identified $586,000 in reduced expenditures for the 2013-2014 school year and is seeking another $234,333 in savings to balance its $35-million budget within the limits of the property tax cap.
He explained that increases of $346,000 in health insurance costs and $380,000 in retirement contributions, together with principal and interest payments of $245,000 on borrowings for the reconstruction of the Huot Regional Technical Education Center, total $971,000 in increased spending.
Meanwhile, as a result of a change in the formula for distributing state aid and a decline in enrollment the district will forego $507,731 in state funding in fiscal year 2014. Emond said that $150,000 will be trimmed from capital projects while retirements and attrition are projected to spare nearly $340,000 in salaries and benefits. He expected another $100,000 would be saved by eliminating or deferring capital projects. With increased revenues of $150,667, the remaining gap comes to $234,333.
Emond reminded the councilors that School District employees have gone without step raises and cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for the past three years while assuming a greater share of their health insurance premiums. The board, he said, hopes to negotiate a three-year collective bargaining agreement that will include both step raises and COLAs. At the same time, Emond stressed that the School Board, like the City Council, was committed to honoring the limits of the tax cap.