Timberlane Taxes to Skyrocket

With calculations from Arthur Green

Timberlane School District residents will be asked to pay 8.9% more in taxes this November. As usual, Sandown and Danville will be slammed hardest.

Also as usual, the news was disguised. The administration reported at the June 1 school board meeting that the surplus projected at the end of June will be $1.377 million, which is about half a million less than the forecast used in preparing the 2017/18 budget.

Here’s the estimated tax increase taking into account the voted 17/18 budget, the voted school warrant articles and the reduced budgeted surplus:

  • Timberlane overall:  8.9% increase
  • Atkinson:  6.3%
  • Danville:  10.2%
  • Plaistow:  8.9%
  • Sandown: 11.2%

At some future meeting, the school board could decide to put $200,000, which is currently in a surplus retention fund, towards this revenue shortfall.  They probably will, but the effect will be hardly noticeable.

Welcome to the land of educational funding where money is no object and having both hands in the taxpayers’ pocket passes for management.

The History

Four months ago at School Deliberative, the district presented the tax impact of the proposed 2017/18 budget – a 7.5% district-wide average increase in the education portion of the property tax.  This information was on a paper handout which was not posted to the district website (and is still not posted on the website).  TRSD does not find it convenient to make this information available to taxpayers in advance of the Deliberative, although all the information is in hand months prior.  Arthur Green did his best to make up for this lack of transparency with this blog post (and others), where he correctly forecast the proposed budget tax impact that was finally made public at Deliberative.

Since the deliberative meeting, two things have changed to make the tax impact even more serious:

  • In March, voters approved the warrant article for the support workers contract, adding $181,000 to the appropriation.
  • Last Thursday, the administration gave the school board a report of the year-end financial position, projecting a surplus of  just $1,377,000.  This represents a shortfall from their budgeted projections of more than half a million dollars.

Let us hope the new school board can bring some fiscal common sense to the district going forward.

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4 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

4 responses to “Timberlane Taxes to Skyrocket

  1. Pingback: Timberlane Taxes to Skyrocket | The New Media Militia

  2. David R

    Well, isn’t that just great news. Next will be additional monies to repair the school buses that are getting damaged driving down some of the decrepit roads that our towns can’t afford to fix. We just got our tax bill – $29.16 per $1,000 I believe it was. Sad to say this is making Massachusetts look more and more enticing when we look to sell our house and leave here in a few years, maybe sooner. It’s amazing the amount of “For Sale” signs that have popped up in Sandown recently – no word of a lie – 7 on our road alone within the past 24 months…a road that only has 22 houses on it to begin with!!! And I believe 3 of these houses have been sold twice within these last 3 years. And no matter where you drive in town it seems like there are more and more signs popping up.

  3. Mark Acciard

    During the last 5 years for which data is avail. TRSD has lost 454 students in attendance, while the budget has increased $7,257,935.00. This means that over those 5 years TRSD’s cost per pupil has increased from $15,781.61 per student attending, to $19,872.76 per student attending.

    This is a ridiculous amount for a school that achieved the “in need of improvement” label for 7 years.

    Just think at this rate of increase in another ten years TRSD will be charging what Phillips Exeter charges today for a first rate education.

    Why are the taxpayers willing to accept this? along with whatever latest educational fad the District embraces? Remember the abolition of finals and mid terms? Many of us pointed out the absolute folly of that practice, only to be pooh poohed by Scott Strange, and the Super. it took less than three years for us to be proven right, and the policy to be rescinded, to the harm and detriment of those students matriculating during those years.

    • Mark,
      “In need of improvement” is no longer a designation due to the transition from No Student Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds. The school board has been given no information about our standing with respect to the ESS measures and I can’t find such on the DOE site. We are told academic outcomes are improving. SAT scores did show a rise though have yet to recapture our scores before the precipitous decline that you describe. Sandown will have had near double digit school tax increases for three years in a row as of this November. Why are taxpayers willing to accept this bad value equation? Because they are frightened of withdrawing from a mediocre district and have been led to believe that it is impossible to manage things better. You and I know it is far from impossible to manage things better, but better management requires our own school board with people who care about Sandown and have an understanding that good management on all levels requires financial discipline. Timberlane has had no financial discipline whatsoever for the last 5 years – as you have so concisely illustrated. The best districts in the state also happen to have the tightest financial operations. This is no accident. Financial discipline cultivates discipline at all levels in all enterprises -especially in academics. Does this seem counter intuitive? It shouldn’t. When you are awash in money like Timberlane is, there is a mad rush to buy things that sound good – like Achieve 3000 and hiring the services of the superintendent’s wife. These impetuous decisions usually end up being disruptive in many unforeseen ways and a huge waste of money.

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