RCL Notes on 2019 Tax Rate and Budget Committee meetings

Tax rate setting video: Click Here

SUMMARY OF TAX RATE SETTING MEETING

  1.  The tax rate set on 11/12/18 was flat at $10.11 for the total of town, school and county taxes (i.e. excluding districts).  

2.  The town tax rate was up $.16 and the school rate down $.16.  About half of the reduction in the school tax rate was due to a one-time distribution of the SAU50 surplus to the member districts.

3.  Of approximately $1.04 million in prior year surpluses available to reduce the tax rate, the Selectmen used only $220,000 to reduce the tax rate.  That leaves approximately $820,000 that could be applied to reduce the tax rate in the future.  The Selectmen chose to retain this large amount due to a potential spike in 2019 if all of the warrant articles being proposed pass.

4.  The total assessed valuation, unlike in 2017, was essentially flat at $2.143 billion, thus total taxes raised was also flat.  

5.  The flat taxation in 2018 is still up substantially from 2016.  In 2017, total taxes raised were up 7%.   Despite the large increase in total taxation, the 2017 tax rate was down 5% because a 13% increase in the total assessed valuation in 2017 obscured the impact of the taxation increase.

  SUMMARY OF BUDGET MEETINGS TO DATE AND EARLY JANUARY

  1.  The Budget Committee will be holding a public hearing on the school district budget, January 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Rye Junior High;, and on the town budget on January 10 at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.  Note:  the legal notice says 6:30 p.m. as the first hour is a work session.  Come at 5:30 p.m. if you want to hear the entire discussion.  

2.  The School District is projecting a $.22 increase in the school portion of the tax rate for 2019, largely due to a reduction in estimated revenues.  That assumes that the warrant article for the new collective bargaining agreement with the support staff passes.

3.  The town operating budget recommended by the Selectmen is up approximately 5.8 percent over 2018, or about a $.25 tax rate impact at the current valuation.  The Budget Committee has not yet voted on the entire budget and town revenue estimates have not yet been completed.  A change in revenues from 2018 may affect the tax rate in 2019.

4.  The total impact of the $.22 school increase and the $.25 town increase would be a $.47 increase in the 2019 tax rate, or $235 for a $500,000 house, before considering the impact of warrant articles.  If the Selectmen decide to apply some of the excess surplus carried forward in the 2018 tax rate setting meeting, the tax rate increase could be less.

5.  Major money warrant articles proposed for 2019 are:

a.  $992K for a new pumper/ladder truck ($500K to be lease financed over five years, the rest to come from two fire truck/ambulance reserve funds accumulated from prior taxation and cell tower revenues).

b.  $700K for a new bond-financed salt shed (almost identical to the article which failed in 2018).

c.  $200K for Shoals View Dr. Paving (got over 50% last year, but failed to get the needed 60% as a bond).  Being resubmitted as coming from 2019 taxation (only 50% required).

d.  The usual highway reserve, fire truck reserve and other articles that are generally submitted every year. These warrant articles have been recommended by the Selectmen and will be voted on at the Budget Committee hearing on January 10.  Since the fire truck is proposed to be partially lease financed, and the salt shed almost entirely bond financed, the warrant articles affecting current year taxation would be about flat relative to what passed in 2018.  Nevertheless, future bond and lease payments would be substantial   

Note that the School Board and the Selectmen only recommend their respective budgets.  They do not establish them.  The Budget Committee determines the budget figures that will appear on the warrant for the town and school Deliberative Sessions.  The public hearings are your last opportunity to affect the budgets that appear on the warrants.  The budgets established by the Budget Committee may be increased or decreased by the voters attending the Deliberative Session, with a 10 percent maximum increase allowed, with certain exceptions.  The voters then vote the budget items up or down in March.  If the operating budget fails to pass, a default budget kicks in.  If any other warrant article with an appropriation fails to pass no money may be spent for that purpose in 2019.

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