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March 05. 2014 8:17PM

Unity voters face tax hike regardless of bond vote

UNITY — Residents will be faced with rising taxes whether the proposed school building bond is approved or not.

The town is already facing a higher town tax because $301,000 from the Unreserved Fund Balance was used last year to offset the tax rate.

The town portion of the tax rate went from $5.30 per $1,000 valuation in 2012 to $3.95 per $1,000 valuation in 2013 because of the added funds, said Selectman Edward Gregory.

“Last year was an exceptional year. We could use the unreserved funds,” Gregory said.

This year the town portion of the tax rate is expected to go back to its normal range to $5.87, he said.

“It’s back up to normal, the norm it would be. Last year was good, a good year for the taxpayers,” Gregory said.

He said the town is expecting to receive $108,813 from the state over the next five years through a grant for closing the town landfill in 2010.

“That’s a positive,” Gregory said.

Voters will be asked to approve the proposed $1,036,936 operating budget at Town Meeting on March 15 at Unity Town Hall.

A week later voters will gather at the Claremont Opera House for the Unity School District Annual Meeting and vote on a $2.75 million bond needed to complete the Unity Elementary School Building project that has already cost the town more than $5 million.

The bond is expected to increase the school portion of the tax rate by 54 cents the first year, however, the impact would be greater if the bond is voted down and the school is forced to tuition students to another district.

According to the school district, if the bond is voted down, 22 Unity Elementary School employees would be laid off and the cost of transportation and paying tuition to another district would be about $2,331,000 annually.

Unity voters are generally supportive of the town and school district, Gregory said, but the way the school building project has proceeded has residents worried, he said.

“I think they are very concerned. I think they are very unhappy about how that school portion boiled down, the school not being completed,” Gregory said.

mpierce@newstote.com


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