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The Yankee Express

Uxbridge school budget passes

By Patty Roy

After voters at the June 18 special town meeting overwhelmingly approved the town’s school budget for the upcoming fiscal year, voters are able to relax, knowing that the crucial funding is set. 
“Having a budget means a great summer for everybody,” said Town Administrator Steve Sette.
“I’m very happy; I think we have a budget that’s going to allow the school to do a lot of things.” 
The 12 percent increase in the school budget was initially turned down in a squeaker at the annual town meeting in May, by a vote of 221-216. That meant no money for staffing, programs or maintenance; essentially, all schools would have closed.
It was thought at the time, that voters mistakenly believed that the town could fund the schools with a “one-twelfth budget,” or spending an amount equal to one-twelfth of last year’s school budget each month until a new budget could be hammered out. However, the state allows that option only to regional school systems, not to individual municipalities.
By contrast to the lackluster support at the May town meeting, enthusiasm ran high for the $27.4 million budget that voters approved at the special town meeting, with 1016 voters giving the go ahead and 186 voting against. The vote required a two-thirds majority since it occurred at a special town meeting.
The amount asked at the special town meeting was trimmed from the initial $27.6 asked originally and was recommended by the Select Board, Finance Committee and the School Board.  
“I was delighted to see the budget pass,” said Dr. Mike Baldassare, Superintendent of Uxbridge Schools. “With 1200 people in attendance at the town meeting, we earned over 1000 votes!”
The good news came with minimal cuts to the previously proposed budget, he said.  
He continued, “So, I am proud to say that we will be able to preserve the work that we’ve done in 2024 and continue to grow, modernize, and improve in 2025.”
According to the town meeting warrant, 70 percent of the budget increase is due to compensation factors, while the district is also facing increased costs for transportation, coupled with the inability to use revolving funds (fee supported funding) to offset operating expenses. There was also a $538,086 bump in regional school payments to Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School and Norfolk Agricultural School due to increased enrollment. 
Homeowners can expect taxes to go up this year, but it will vary according to property assessments. 
According to Sette, the majority of homeowners will see an increase from $350 to $400, he said, with the average home in town “assessed somewhere in the neighborhood of $450,000.”
“We know that at the high end of people’s valuations, taxes won’t go up more than $650 annually,” he said.
The town has a slight split between residential and commercial tax bases, Sette said. The tax rate currently stands at $12.98/ $1000 for residential properties.