During the financial town meeting on Wednesday night, Barrington taxpayers said yes to a $1.038 million increase for public schools and the creation of a new all-day kindergarten program.
A crowd of about 160 people inside the Barrington High School auditorium voted overwhelmingly in support of the proposed budget hike. In fact, not a single person approached the microphone to discuss the school budget before the proposal went to a vote.
Barrington Town Moderator Julia Califano joked that the meeting might set a record for brevity after voters approved the increase. In fact, the entire meeting — including votes for the municipal budget, a $1.6 million bond item, and a few other items — required just 50 minutes from start to finish.
The short meeting ran opposite to last year’s financial town meeting where hundreds of Barrington residents argued passionately about whether to vote additional money into the budget to cover costs for a new all-day kindergarten program in local public schools. After a lengthy debate, taxpayers narrowly defeated the motion and implementation all-day kindergarten was delayed.
This year, however, was a different story.
Following this year’s financial town meeting, Barrington Superintendent of Schools Michael Messore appeared pleased with the outcome.
“We know we needed it, but we had to wait for the right time to do it,” he said.
Mr. Messore said starting on Thursday morning, officials will begin work on hiring new educators for the all-day kindergarten program and further examine the improvements needed at local school buildings.
Barrington School Committee Chairwoman Kate Brody praised the work of Mr. Messore and the school district’s finance director, Ron Tarro. She also credited the town’s committee on appropriations, which is saddled with reviewing the proposed budgets each year.
Ms. Brody said she was very excited with the promise of an all-day kindergarten program in local public schools; she even mentioned how she planned to share the news with some neighbors who have young children just starting school.
“It’s a milestone for this district,” she added.
$1.6 million bond
The only item to receive some debate during the financial town meeting was the proposed $1.6 million bond to cover costs associated with streetscape improvements to the downtown business district.
Two members of the planning board spoke in support of the bond while a former member of the committee on appropriations, Kathy Cadigan, cautioned people about excessive spending. She said taxpayers needed to be fiscally smart, especially considering the $36 million bond for a new middle school voters will likely face in two years.
The issue was decided with a verbal vote, as a larger or louder contingent of meeting attendees approved the motion. The new bond will add $120,000 annually to the budget for the next 20 years.
All the “yea” votes at the financial town meeting will result in a 10 cent increase to the overall tax rate — a jump from $18.20 (per $1,000 of assessed property value) to $18.30. For someone who owns a home assessed at $300,000, the tax bill will rise from $5,460 to $5,490.