Front Page     Great links    Archives

Jessie Levine
Town Manager
New London, NH

September 2, 2010

 

The New London Board of Selectmen will hold a public hearing Tuesday, September 7, 6:00 PM, in the Sydney L. Crook Conference Room, 2nd floor of the New London Town Offices to receive comments on a citizen petition to lower the speed limit on Newport Road from 50 to 40 MPH between South Cove Road and Old Route 11.


As Senator Bob Odell has referenced in some of his columns, statewide funding for adequate education continues to be on the minds of legislators in Concord and taxpayers in the property-rich towns that, as of July 1, 2011, will once again contribute more through property taxes for statewide education than they will receive for local education funding. As we approach election season, it is important for voters to speak to their candidates about the impact that statewide education funding could have on New London taxpayers.

The following is largely lifted from an editorial written by Pat Remick, an employee of the City of Portsmouth whose role in large part is to work with New London and the coalition of 35 communities who are so-called “donor towns” (though I detest that term) to lobby the Legislature to create a more equitable means of assessing and collecting property tax for statewide educating funding. If I should share my byline with Pat for this article, I would do so.

Unless the Legislature is compelled to change existing state law, the taxpayers of New London will have to send an estimated $1,014,778 to the State (although the law is effective July 1, 2011, the additional funds will be collected in the November 2011 tax bill).  This represents over $1.00 on the New London tax rate, or $100 for every $100,000 in assessed value.  Without legislative action, the property tax bill for the median valued home in New London could increase by over $300 per year.  The current formula calculated by state law will result in these tax dollars being sent to other New Hampshire communities, including some with higher median household incomes.

New London is not alone in facing major budgeting challenges due to the coming changes in the State's education funding formula. About half of NH's cities and towns (120) will see decreases in State aid under the formula that also will cost at least an additional $70 million (and possibly as much as $150 million or more if the federal stimulus money used this year to plug the education funding budget hole is not renewed). Almost one-third of the communities face cuts of $100,000 or more. In fact, as New London and the 34 other donor towns (including Newbury) send an additional $15 million to Concord, the State's two largest communities – Nashua and Manchester – stand to receive an additional $42 million between them. The balance of the additional funds for the larger communities will be paid by reducing the aid to smaller communities, such as those in our own school district.  Aid to Bradford and Warner will be reduced by over $75,000 each, and aid to Wilmot and Springfield will be reduced by almost $30,000 between them. Only Sutton stands to receive $138,000 more aid than in previous years.  As aid to other communities in our school district is reduced, New London's portion of the local school budget will be increased to make up the balance.  And you thought there was no such thing as double jeopardy.

This return of “donor towns” brings us back to the period from 1999-2005, when New London taxpayers sent $8,210,469 to Concord for redistribution to other municipalities. The schoolchildren of New London received no direct benefit from this $8.2 million.

By way of background, NH law requires that $363.5 million be raised annually from the Statewide Education Property Tax (SWEPT) to go toward the State's share of funding education. The remainder comes from the general fund (lottery profits, real estate transfer tax, etc.). The State establishes a tax rate to raise the $363.5 million, which was $2.19 in fiscal year 2011 (which began July 1, 2010).  If a community with high property values, like New London, raises more under the SWEPT (our total assessed value multiplied by the tax rate) than what the State determines is its cost of an adequate education for our children, then the community has raised “excess” SWEPT.  That excess is redistributed to communities whose education costs are not covered by what they raised under SWEPT (their total assessed value multiplied by the same tax rate).

According to the education funding formula, it costs $1,669,453 to provide what the State defines as an “adequate” education for New London students in the current fiscal year. However, because of high property values, New London can raise $2,663,720 under the SWEPT.  Until July 1, 2011, a “transition formula” was in place that said that if New London raised more than its FY09 cost of “adequacy” plus what it raised under the SWEPT that year – a total of $2,597,855 – it could keep the $65,865 “excess” if it was spent on local education.  

As of July 1, 2011, two major changes will occur: 1) the end of the transition period means the formula will compare the cost of adequacy strictly to the amount raised under the SWEPT;  and 2) any local option disappears and New London will have to send its $1.014 million in “excess” to Concord.  

It is interesting to note that the Kearsarge Regional School District spent $13,601.07 per schoolchild in 2008-2009 (the latest year for which statewide data are available), but the State's “adequacy formula” only allocates a base per-pupil amount of $3,450 per pupil. While certain school and individual factors may increase the amount, it is clear that the State's cost of “adequacy” bears little relationship to the actual price of education in New Hampshire.
 
The Coalition Communities -- New London and 34 other municipalities with high property values -- have long supported a constitutional amendment to allow the State to target aid only to the neediest communities. Nearly every other U.S. state uses such a “foundation aid” method of supplementing what the local community cannot raise, instead of the far more expensive option of paying both the first and last dollar of education adequacy.

The Coalition will continue to fight the return of “Donor” towns but it is essential that the residents of New London and other communities talk to their candidates about this subject.  More information on the Coalition Communities and spreadsheets showing the impact as of July 1, 2011, go to: www.cityofportsmouth.com/coalition/facts.html.

 

Jessie Levine, Town Administrator
375 Main Street
New London, NH 03257

townadmin@nl-nh.com
Phone:
603-526-4821 extension 13
Fax: 603-526-9494

Top of this page

Front Page     Great links    Archives


Contact: ken.s+sunacom.com (replace "+" with "@")