SHIRLEY -- School officials made a final attempt to reconcile the budget in a special meeting just hours before town meeting, voting to propose a decreased amount for the Shirley school assessment on town meeting floor.
Superintendent Carl Mock proposed decreasing the total assessment for both towns by $150,000, highlighting a few budget adjustments that could save that much money. These include reduced expenses for facilities maintenance repairs and charter school tuition and increased revenues in charter tuition reimbursement and transportation aid.
The certified budget that the committee passed in March had Shirley's portion of the assessment at $5,783,756 -- an 8.5 percent increase. Town officials have reiterated that Shirley won't be able to pay the assessment increase, and the number recommended by the finance committee at town meeting was about $192,000 less.
The new assessment the committee voted to recommend on town floor is a 7.5 percent increase. This leaves a discrepancy of about $138,500 between the proposed budgets of both the school and the finance committees.
To cover that, Mock highlighted the town's amount of free cash. After covering a few other items with free cash, he said, there would be about $146,000 left over.
Mock said that the FinCom might be inclined to support $100,000 of that money toward the budget. If that were the case, he said, there would only be a difference of $38,500.
Mock said he was not recommending that the committee re-certify its budget.
"What I'm recommending to you tonight is whether or not you would give somebody on school committee or the superintendent the authority to make a motion at some point in time that would make that adjustment," he said.
He suggested that the committee see if voters would approve the use of free cash for the remainder of the budget, regardless of whether the finance committee supports the $100,000 from free cash.
"If not, I'm pretty sure that free cash will end up in a capital or general stabilization fund by the end of the evening," he said, in which case the committee will be coming back in the future.
If voters approve, he said, the committee can always go back on re-certify the decreased budget.
The newest figure represents a total decrease of about $520,000 from the original budget that Mock proposed in January, which he said he still defends.
Follow Amelia on Twitter and Tout @AmeliaPakHarvey.