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Sharon budgets go to town vote May 13

SHARON — Town and school budgets will be up for a vote at the annual town meeting scheduled for Friday, May 13, at 7 p.m.

The scheduled vote followed consideration of residents’ comments at the annual budget public hearing on Friday, April 29. After that meeting, the Board of Finance unanimously voted to approve the proposed 2022-23 budgets submitted by the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education.

The Board of Education’s budget totals $4,394,943, a reduction of $118,839 (2.63%) below the current year’s spending.

Residents who offered comments and questions focused on clarification of the budget development process and state-mandated elements, noting the lower student enrollment at Sharon Center School and asking why the enrollment numbers do not bring lower costs. Enrollment at the school presently stands at 96 students in the building.

“We want to be a school that is a destination school,” Board of Education Chairman Doug Cahill said, noting that 13 out-of-town students will be enrolling, citing the success of an effort to attract new students to the school. He said that the presence of out-of-town students adds to the educational experience for all students.

Region One Superintendent Lisa Carter announced that the education budget aligns with the state’s MBR (Minimum Budget Requirement) regulations. Residents questioned and discussed the application of the MBR.

Carter said that challenges faced by the six Region One schools are more than their small size. She described greater demands for increased curriculum, along with a higher percentage of students for whom English is their second language.

Overall, the selectmen’s proposed budget for the town totals $4,971,604, an increase of $119,381 (2.46%) over the current year.

Questions were mostly for clarification, although one resident asked for an explanation of the increase in the Assessor’s Office line.

“The office has been underfunded for years,” Selectman Dale Jones responded, adding that the assessor and assistant receive no benefits from the town. He reported that there are 2,500 taxable parcels in the town and that the assessor should be earning $22 per parcel, but Sharon pays $14 per parcel.

Sharon presently has two qualified assessors working in the office, part-time, an example of regionalizing that work, Jones said.

Both the public hearing and the Board of Finance meeting were held in person and on Zoom.

Copies of the proposed budgets are on the Sharon town website at www.sharonct.org.

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