January 14, 2009
Taxpayers Tell School Board: ‘The Well is Dry’
Public hearing: More than 100 residents come out to plead for tax reduction

GOFFSTOWN - A school budget with a possible tax hike of $1.14 on the rate sparked an outcry among some taxpayers at a hearing last night. 

The school board has said it needs $34.2 million to run its schools next year without any serious cuts to services while the budget committee thinks it could make do with about $561,000 less. Either way, taxpayers are looking at a higher rate. Even if the school board adopts the budget committee recommendation at its meeting next Monday, the rate would still go up 74 cents per $1,000 in property value. 

The increase was enough to get Enid Mackenzie to go to her first budget hearing in 30 years as a Goffstown resident. “Don’t you see all around you that people are losing their jobs and losing their homes and you have the audacity to increase our taxes?” Mackenzie said. “That is immoral and unconscionable.” 

“We weary taxpayers are saying we have had enough,” she added. “We are in a new economic era. This is not like the good old days when our town officials came back to the well every year and extort more and more from us. The well is dry. We taxpayers have been bled dry.” 

After she spoke, applause broke out in a hearing that drew a crowd approaching 100, well above the single-digit turnout that has marked past budget committee hearings. (Click here to read Mrs. Mackenzie's statement to the Budget Committee).

Another resident, Leonard Stuart, said the 10-percent increase in the school board would raise a lot of eyebrows even in a good economy. He called upon the school board to lower its budget beyond the $561,000 cut recommended by the budget committee. 

The budget committee also held a hearing on the town budget. The board of selectmen has asked for $19.4 million while the committee prefers $19.3 million, a difference of about $60,000. The selectmen budget would keep the tax rate at $8.37, where it was in 2008. The committee budget would actually reduce the rate by as much as 4 cents. 

At least one resident, John Burpee, was dissatisfied with both the school and the town budgets. “We all have to contribute to reducing our expenses and looking at both budgets frankly I think they’re both … high.” 

Following the hearing, the budget committee is scheduled to take a final vote on the town and school budgets next week. On Feb. 2 the school deliberative session will be held to determine what will appear on the ballot in the March 10 election. The town deliberative session is Feb. 4. 


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