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Early draft Oxbow budget shows increase

Journal Opinion of Bradford, Vermont

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BRADFORD—The Oxbow High School Board members continued to crunch numbers to develop budgets for the next academic year. What they are working on is still considered very preliminary.

The latest version of the OHS budget is $7,410,311, which is an increase of 3.3 percent over last year's version. The projected student population will decrease by 3.9 percent to 344.75 "equalized" pupils.

From fiscal year 2013 to 2016, the number of equalized pupils at Oxbow has fallen by 42.57 students.

The good news is that there will again be an unspent balance of funds left over from the prior year to bring forward. That amount, confirmed by the most recent audit, is $213,800, despite having $160,000 less in tuition revenue for the 2013-14 year because there were about 10 less tuition students who are attending Oxbow this year. The board has yet to make a decision about how the surplus will be included or if they will allocate some of it for capital or other items.

A new boiler is needed at the school, which is projected to cost approximately $80,000. This generated discussion on how to develop a capital improvement fund for the school, which could be a way to save up for large capital expenditures over the long term.

Financial consultant Keith Merrick provided a preliminary guideline to project the new tax rates incurred by the budget at its current stage. Many of these numbers are likely to be fluid for a few more weeks until finalized. But as of Jan. 6, the homestead tax rate of $ 1.5841 could be as much as six percent higher than last year's rate of $1.4939.

Based on the breakdown between the numbers of students attending Oxbow from Bradford and Newbury, the projected union school tax rate for Bradford is 0.7784 and 0.8020 for Newbury. For Bradford, the rate is 0.8 percent less than the FY 15 rate and for Newbury, it is 5.3 percent higher than their rate last year.

All these numbers are preliminary. The budget is a work in progress.

Lillian Gahagan may be contacted at

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Original Publication Date: January 14, 2015

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