LITTLE COMPTON — Without any audible dissenting vote, or question, or comment for or against by any member of the audience, 198 town voters here swiftly approved a town budget for Fiscal Year 2014 in a Financial Town Meeting (FTM) that lasted 46 minutes from the call-to-order at 7:04 p.m. to adjournment at 7:50 p.m..
With 148 voters needed for a quorum, those gathered represented seven percent of the 2,955 registered voters in town.
Shortly after the meeting was called to order, Budget Committee Chairman Scott Morrison for ten minutes outlined the budget his committee was recommending to the voters.
Last year the town budget was $12.24 million, and next year’s (as recommended, and as approved Tuesday night) will be $12.28 million.
There would be no property tax rate change from last year to this, he said, with the rate remaining at $5.38 per thousand dollars of value.
For the owner of a $300,000 home, for example, this would mean an annual property tax bill of $1,614, the same for both years.
Because the assessed value of the town’s tax base had increased over what it was last year, Mr. Morrison said, the total tax levy would increase by 2.61 percent.
The budget for next year, he said, increased by 3.27 percent over the current year’s. The increase is attributable to increased operating costs for utilities and modular classrooms for the school, increased pension contributions, and interest costs for interim financing for the school renovation project.
Mr. Morrison said that in the following fiscal year (FY 2015), the committee expected the bond-servicing costs for the school renovation would be in the range of $500,000 and could generate a tax levy increase in the range of five percent.
Although not reflected in next year’s budget figures, Mr. Morrison spoke to the audience about the changing demographics of Little Compton. Referring to the Budget Committee’s report, he said “Little Compton’s population has grown older and that trend is forecast to continue. We now have the highest percentage of seniors of any municipality in the state. The other part of that shift is that the number of children attending Wilbur-McMahon School has declined from 383 in 1995/96 to 276 this school year, and is forecast to fall to 216 in 2012/22.”
The final vote came about 7:45 p.m., a few minutes after Mr. Morrison concluded, when articles 7 through 58 in the docket were approved without dissent as a block.
New this year to the FTM ritual was child care provided by four teachers and student volunteers at the Little Compton Community Center adjacent to the school. Shortly before the meeting began, a head count showed about 25-30 children present.
• Budget Committee, Beach Commission:
Entirely separate from, and by secret ballot voting at Wilbur & McMahon School the night of the FTM, voters re-elected members of the Beach Commission and Budget Committee.
Scott Morrison, George Crowell, and Robert A. Goulart (all incumbents) each won re-election to two year terms to the Budget Committee.
Arthur C. Jones and Joseph D. Rocha (incumbents) both won re-election to four year terms to the Beach Commission, defeating a third candidate Timothy M. Gould Jr..