Barrington’s annual Financial Town Meeting closed Wednesday night with some rather pointed rhetoric about budget “realities” that will be “fiscally taxing” in the next few years for property owners.
The list of realities includes the need for a renovated or brand new middle school, millions of dollars in bonds for road repairs, pension obligations and “unsustainable” annual increases in school spending – which takes the lion’s share of taxes in Barrington, said Kathy Cadigan, chair of the Committee on Appropriations (COA).
At the top of the school spending reality, said Geoff Grove, a member of the COA and the chair of the ad hoc budget forecasting committee that has been studying the town’s financial position, is “employee compensation” – “the elephant in the room.”
“Because of compensation,” said Grove,” there is pressure on the budget.”
Cadigan was a bit more emphatic. She said the teachers’ contract “has the hugest impact on tax rates. It takes 87 percent of the school budget and more than half of the total town budget” – actually closer to 60 percent.
Tim Sweetser, vice chair of the COA, pointed specifically to what he said has been a 13.5 percent boost in compensation for teachers since 2009. He asked the 142 voters at the town meeting to compare that boost in pay to their own compensation over the past three years.
Cadigan specifically asked voters in the high school auditorium to look at the list of annual salaries for Barrington’s administrative and professional employees making above $50,000 a year.
The list of salaries was on page 8 in the 24-page Financial Town Meeting document given out to voters. A look at page 8 shows the range of teacher salaries next year and this year.
Here is the range of salaries for the 273.94 FTE positions in the district next year (2012-2013):
- 16 teachers will make between $90,000 and $95,999
- 173 teachers will make between $80,000 and $89,999
- 36 teachers will make from $71,000 to 79,999
- 21 teachers will make $60,000 to $60,999
- 21 teachers will make between $50,000 and $59,999
- 6.94 teachers will make under $50,000
Here is the range of salaries for the 279.06 FTE positions in the district this year (2011-12):
- 5 teachers will make between $90,000 and $93,999
- 136 teachers will make between $80,000 and $89,999
- 75 teachers will make between $71,000 and $79,999
- 15 teachers will make between $60,000 and $68,999
- 25 teachers will make between $51,000 and $59,999
- 23.06 teachers will make under $50,000
Cadigan said the three-year teachers’ contract is in its final year. The renegotiation that will take place soon will go occur out of sight and out of the control of the COA, she said. But it certainly will be felt by taxpayers because of the massive impact it has on Barrington’s budget.
Norman McCulloch Jr. of Adams Point Road made a specific suggestion about negotiating the next teachers’ contract. Barrington school officials must hire an outstanding negotiator, he said, “because the union will have one.”