Guest contribution by Arthur Green
On the school ballot Tuesday, Warrant Article 3 asks to place $250,000 in capital reserve, to be funded from unexpended capital funds (if any). This article concludes with the sentence “No amount to be raised from taxation”.
I questioned this sentence at Public Hearing and at Deliberative.
Unexpended balances (surplus) are applied as revenue to offset the taxes which would need to be raised for 2016/17, which will appear on your Nov. 2016 tax bill. If the $250,000 are unexpended from capital accounts, and the money is transferred to the Capital Reserve Fund instead of offsetting 2016/17 taxes, there will be a $250,000 tax increase on the Nov. 2016 tax bill.
Yes, exactly as though this amount is “to be raised from taxation”.
At Public Hearing, I was told that this misleading phrase in the warrant article was either required by or approved by the state Department of Revenue Administration (DRA).
Whatever your opinion of the merits of this article, please be aware that each dollar placed in capital reserve will be raised from an increase in the Nov.2016 tax bill over and above the amounts already reported as tax impact by the district. The tax impact sheet (attached here) shows, for each town, line item “3 Capital Reserve Contrib.” as no tax impact. Perhaps this was also required by DRA.
What is the likelihood that there will be unexpended funds available for this purpose? The only eligible funds are appropriations from accounts designated as capital, and the district usually has a backlog of projects and purchases on which it could spend excess capital funds. However, this year there is a particular item making the situation different. At deliberative last year, there was a motion passed to add $250,000 to the 2015/16 budget for a sprinkler system at Danville. The district found, to its embarrassment, that the sprinkler project costs had been severely underestimated. As a result, we have Warrant Article 6 on the ballot, to appropriate $500,000 for a Danville sprinkler system in addition to the $250,000 already in this year’s budget. If Warrant Article 6 is defeated, there will be $250,000 in this year’s capital budget which cannot be spent on the sprinklers, and would be eligible for transfer to the Capital Reserve.