As I See It
By GUY CARON
Friday, December 10, 2010

Even a level-funded school budget means big tax increase

As taxpayers continue to worry about the school board's proposed 5.2% increase in the school budget, many have contacted me and suggested that instead of trying to find ways to reduce the current budget by 10%, the Budget Committee should instead just level-fund the school budget (meaning no increase or decrease in the budget).  That way, our taxes may not go down, but at least they won't go up.

Wrong.  Just level-funding the school budget will still mean a huge school-side tax increase next year.

How can this be, they ask?  If we give them the same amount of money as they have now, how can taxes still go up?

The answer is because last year's school budget - and, accordingly, the school tax rate, was unexpectedly offset by $2.7 million.  About one million of that was due to unanticipated tuition revenue, and the remaining $1.7 million came from federal ARRA stimulus funds.  

If we hadn't received those refunds, our tax rate increase would have been in the neighborhood of $3.02 per thousand, and not the $1.21 per thousand we all "enjoyed" instead.

There will be no stimulus funds next year.  So even if the school budget were to be level-funded next year, we'd still need to make up for that $2.7 million somehow to fill the missing gap.  And that money will come from the taxpayers.

This means that even with a level-funded school budget, all of our school-side tax rates will go up by an additional $2 per thousand or so.  For a home assessed at $250,000, you're looking at another school-side increase of around $500.

Now add another $1.8 million in increases the school board is demanding to that "level-funded" school budget, and you can quickly see that tax rate increase would easily exceed $3 per thousand if the school board gets what they want.

So how can any school-side tax increase be avoided?  Two things needs to happen:

  1. The Budget Committee MUST find a sensible, reasonable way to reduce the school board's current budget by $2.7 million to $32.9 million (this will be $4.5 million less than the school board's proposed budget of $37.4 million) without compromising the quality of education for our children, and
  2. Voters MUST support such a reduction at school deliberative session on February 5, 2011.  Otherwise, the school board will, as it does every single year, make a motion to increase the Budget Committee's recommended budget right back up to where they want it.  And if that motion passes, another tax increase passes.

Details of both the town and school budgets are available for all residents at www.GoffstownBudgets.com.

Ultimately, it is the voters who will decide what they can or can't afford.  But the budget you vote on in March will be a direct result of what happens at the school deliberative session on February 5th.  If you care at all about your community, your schools and your taxes, please be sure to show up on February 5th.

As always, I welcome your questions and comments.  Feel free to contact me anytime at 497-5900, or via email at GuyCaron@comcast.net

 




Guy Caron can be reached via e-mail at: GuyC@GoffstownResidentsAssociation.com

Past Columns by Guy Caron  >>>

 


DISCLAIMER:  The opinions expressed by Mr. Caron are not necessarily those of the Goffstown Residents Association or its members.


Copyrightę2010 Goffstown Residents Association.  All Rights Reserved.


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