Guest Contribution by Arthur Green
Here’s an astonishing political fact. For three towns in the Timberlane district, the 2018-2019 budget is easily digestible while Sandown is taking an enormous blow. Whether the towns choose the default budget (near flat-line) or a $1 million higher operating budget, there will be very little impact on Atkinson, Plaistow and Danville. Only Sandown is left holding the bag with a 10%-12% school tax increase whatever budget passes.
Some quick calculations show the following tax impacts of the original proposed budget (flat line $71.759 million) going into Deliberative last week:
Unfortunately, neither of the 2 options on the March 13 ballot will correspond to this table. The Proposed budget was raised at Deliberative to $72.8 million, and the default budget, $71.870 million, was not accompanied by a tax impact.
I’ve estimated these impacts – emphasis on the word estimate – without having access to all of the information available to the business administrator, but applying similar assumptions to those used for the published estimates above.
For the Default Budget of $71,870,607, my estimated tax impacts are:
As one would expect, this reflects the fact that the default budget is slightly ($100K) higher than the originally proposed budget.
For the new Proposed Budget as placed on the ballot at Deliberative, $72,800,000, my estimated tax impacts are:
The remarkable difference in the impact on Sandown in all scenarios demands explanation.. coming up below.
Why the big hit on Sandown?
The dominant factor is the enrollment balance among the towns.
Apportionment of costs is primarily based on enrollment – using the Department of Education metric “Average Daily Membership in Residence” (ADM-R). By Timberlane’s Articles of Agreement, the ADM figure used to apportion the 2019 costs is the ADM from 2017 – which sounds absurd but it is the most recently reported final number. The 2018 ADM will not be available until months after the 2019 apportionment needs to be calculated for the tax bills to be issued.
So, what was the change in ADM from School Year 2016 to School Year 2017?
Sandown up slightly, the other 3 towns down significantly.
If we take the 2017/18 (current year) budget, and imagine that the only change is this shift in enrollment, here’s the impact on the tax apportionment to the towns:
Breaking a 2-year old tradition, Timberlane has posted online the document package from Feb 8 Deliberative which includes the forecast tax impact of the proposed budget (final 2 pages).