This is revised to reflect newly reported revenue for the 2014-2015 year as per Timberlane’s Business Administrator disclosed in the evening of Jan. 15, 2014. (1/18/14)
If Timberlane’s proposed budget is passed (along with the SAU’s proposed budget), taxpayers in the district will be required to give the school district 5% more taxpayer dollars than in this current budget year. In Sandown, this 5% raise translates into a potential 7.8% increase in our school taxes because our state aid and impact fees have declined. We’re not alone in our misery. Danville may get hit with a 6.6% increase because their education grant has also decreased.* THIS IS ALL BEFORE THE COST OF WARRANT ARTICLES, should any of them pass. [percentages revised 1/15/14]
The school administration is going to tell you that the budget increase is just 2.2%, but that will be deceptive. The cost of running the SAU has been (rightly) stripped out of their calculations, but because this is the first year this is required, a truthful comparison with last year must include the proposed SAU budget. With the SAU added, the actual total proposed budget increase is actually 4%. In dollars, that’s $2,569,174. To raise all this additional cash, property owners are being asked for a 5% increase over what they paid this budget year. And as I’ve noted above, for some towns, coming up with that 5% will drive their school taxes up nearly 8 or 9 percent. Please take a look at the spreadsheet that is linked here for an understanding of each town’s tax impact.
If this budget passes as proposed, you should know that since 2008, the school district’s cash requirements from the towns will have grown 24.5%. That’s a 25% increase in SEVEN years. All this has been happening during the worst recession in modern history AND while student enrollment has plummeted by 17%. [Figures include 2014-2015.] Don’t think this might be because state aid has declined. In fact, state aid to the district as a whole has actually increased over this period. Very simply, the school district’s budget is a runaway train.
Now if you really want to see a train wreck in progress, consider the possibility that the new support staff union’s collective agreement might pass to the tune of $248,447. A staggering 76% of that is for health insurance, so you can be assured that the cost of this agreement will do nothing but rocket up in the years going forward. As it is now and before this collective agreement, salaries and benefits consume 73% of our district’s budget.
Think you’ll get relief by voting for the default budgets for both the district and the SAU? Nope. Even with both default budgets, Sandown’s school taxes will likely go up 7.4% and Danville’s by 6.3%. This is less than Sandown’s 9.5% bill this year, but hardly anything to celebrate. ATTEND THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THIS BUDGET ON THURSDAY, JAN. 16 AT 7 P.M. AT THE PAC. EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY, PLAN TO VOTE AT THE SCHOOL DELIBERATIVE ON THIS BUDGET ON FEB 6, 7 pm at the PAC.
*Due to the fact that the district does not give the Budget Committee projected tax impact information, the calculations here assume 1) the average daily membership for each town stays in proportion to what it was in this current budget year; 2) the balance between capital and operating spending is consistent; 3) state aid and development fees are as last year or as estimated by the DOE. The district’s own estimates will not be shared with the public (or the Budget Committee) until Deliberative. Two members of the Budget Committee this year have made Right to Know information demands of the SAU.