Holden town meeting backs $28M school district spending
By Gregory Savageau, Correspondent
HOLDEN – Town meeting voters Monday backed a budget that fully funds the Wachusett Regional School District budget, and they approved a town ban on recreational marijuana establishments.
The school district assessment to the town of Holden as a portion of the Wachusett school district’s overall budget increased 7.3 percent over last year, bringing the town’s total spending on the district to just over $28 million.
Alan Berg, a member of the Finance Committee, said, “Of the increases to the town budget this year 18 percent of it is due to town services, police, fire, recreation, town offices, while 82 percent of the increase is due to education. We are funding the 100 percent of the school district’s request this year.”
The increases in spending will result in a property tax increase. The average homeowner, with a property valued at $315,000, will see taxes increase $404 for the year.
Resident Heidi Lahey weighed in: “We are being shortchanged by the state, the federal government, and the state’s foundation formula does not adequately support regional school districts.”
Finance Committee members expressed concerns that this year’s level of increase in education spending is not sustainable. Committee member Christopher Lucchesi said, “We were here 15 years ago saying the same things we are saying today. I agree with (Ms. Lahey’s) comments, and I stand by the Finance Committee decision to fully fund the district, and I second their concerns. We are going to have to make some difficult decisions about what services we wish to go without. We are going to need to seek long-term solutions within our community.”
Mr. Berg warned the school district to keep spending increases in check, saying, “Future school budgets need to coordinate with district town resources, even if that means changes in class