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Allenstown worried about impact on tax rate from loss of education revenue

Union Leader Correspondent

December 15. 2017 12:11AM
School Board Chairman Kris Raymond on Thursday gave a presentation on what the loss of revenue could mean for the town. (Melissa Proulx/Correspondent)

ALLENSTOWN — With concerns about a significant loss of revenue for town schools in the coming years, officials are looking for ways to lessen the burden on taxpayers.

Starting this year, the amount of stabilization funding is expected to drop by 4 percent until it is eventually eliminated in 2032.

Allenstown receives the largest amount of stabilization funding as a part of the district’s budget than any other community in the state, meaning residents will need to pay additional property taxes to help cover the loss of state funding.

“In five years, the town taxpayer is almost going to be fully funding the schools,” said School Board Chairman Kris Raymond.

Added with the town portion, the tax rate could approach $40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in the next five years. Currently, the tax rate is at $32.11 per $1,000 of assessed value.

This enormous tax hike “is just not sustainable for more than half the town population,” Raymond said.

But change could be coming. House Bill 525 will be voted on by legislators in January and it calls for scrapping the 4 percent reduction in stablization funding.

State legislators for the town — Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, Rep. Alan Turcotte of Allenstown and Rep. Carol McGuire of Epsom — were at the Thursday meeting to hear the town’s perspective and provide feedback.

Turcotte encouraged residents to call their legislators and let them know how they feel about the bill.

“You guys are the ones who put us there and that makes a big difference,” he said. “If you get the input, you know you want that voted a certain way.”

Reagan, however, said he is concerned about the town’s perspective on the matter.

“This is presenting a very misleading picture of what may or may not happen,” he said. “You’re promising you’ll do nothing to reduce your expenditure.”

Raymond said the school board is searching for way to save money, such as consolidating two schools into one building.

The elementary and middle school are 55 years old and 63 years old, respectively.

A feasibility study was approved earlier this week to look at this issue.

“We’re already running on a bare minimum budget,” said budget committee member Tiffany Ranfos. “We have to protect our revenue as much as we can.”

But Raymond said that to make the cuts necessary to offset the loss of state funding would mean laying off teachers and bigger than recommended class sizes.

“There’s nothing dramatic the school board can do,” she said.

Reagan, who represents 11 towns in the area, including all those in SAU 53, said Allenstown was the first to approach him with such a concern.

“I haven’t heard a word from anybody that they’re having this type of distress,” he said.

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