BINGHAM — Despite an unusually low turnout at the district budget meeting Thursday night, residents in School Administrative District 13 gave initial approval to a proposed $3.4 million budget for 2016-2017.

The $3,459,508 budget is up less than one percent from the current budget. Each of the items in the budget meeting warrant was unanimously approved Thursday. The budget will now go to voters in Bingham and Moscow in a referendum June 14.

Just seven people attended Thursday’s meeting in addition to a moderator and members of the school board, an attendance that School Board Chairman Brian Malloy said is the lowest he has seen in his 41 years on the board.

“We’ve had an incredibly good year, and there isn’t anything controversial in the budget,” said SAD 13 Superintendent Virginia Rebar in offering an explanation for the low turnout Thursday. “I think we’ve kept it very reasonable and with very little negative impact.”

Despite the small overall budget increase, the amount of money to be raised locally is up about 7 percent in Bingham, though it is down about 12 percent in Moscow, a shift that is largely due to changes in enrollment, according to Rebar.

There are also changes in state funding with the district losing about $59,000 compared to last year, but savings are expected in health insurance and workers compensation, special education costs and from an increase in out-of-district tuition revenue last year. Overall the budget is up about $29,000 over the current budget and also includes cost of living raises for all teachers and staff.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Rebar said. “There’s been a lot of good teamwork and pride this year, and I think it’s fueling very positive energy.”

Thursday’s meeting lasted about 45 minutes, and while there were few comments, some residents did have questions.

In response to a question from resident Geraldine Morrill about whether the district is planning any renovations or capital projects this year, Rebar said they are not.

“We do have aging boilers so we have to keep an eye on that, but we don’t have any renovations or repairs in mind,” she said.

Residents in both towns will be asked to give final approval to the budget on June 14. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Quimby Middle School in Bingham and at the Moscow Town Office.

With the referendum coinciding with the state primary day, Malloy said he is hopeful more people will come out to vote.

“The polls will be open longer than usual so hopefully things go smoothly,” he said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

ro[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.