Town portions of school funding mulled

  • Jaffrey-Rindge Apportionment Committee members Laurel McKenzie, left, and Jason Paolino, right, listen to Norm Langevin during Thursday’s meeting.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A recommendation from the Jaffrey-Rindge Apportionment Committee is beginning to take shape. 

The committee met for the third time on Thursday, with the Jaffrey and Rindge contingency each presenting their own recommendations. 

The Rindge contingency presented a five-part recommendation, with the crux being that any state or other external aid should go to the district to reduce the cost of education before apportionment is calculated. Presently, state aid is given to the towns to offset education costs. 

“State aid going to the district makes the most sense,” said Roberta Oeser, the Selectmen’s representative to the committee for Rindge.

Other parts of the recommendation include: towns should use the same assessing firm, the committee should recognize that education costs are primarily driven by student numbers, the current apportionment formula shall remain in place, and apportionment should be revised every five years. 

The committee was created by a petition warrant article passed after Town Meeting. Made up of a Selectman, Planning Board member, Budget Committee/Budget Advisory Committee member, and School Board member from each town, the committee has been tasked with examining the district’s apportionment formula. Any proposed changes need to be reported to the School Board by Oct. 1.  

By the Rindge contingency’s calculations, Rindge would still pay more under this proposal – $8,197,836 in the 2017-18 school year to Jaffrey’s $7,752,099 – but it would represent a fair alternative to the current plan, where Rindge would pay an estimated $9,102,982 to Jaffrey’s $6,846,953.

A third calculation – labeled the “fairest” way on documents handed out by Rindge – would further change the formula to only have each town pay based on student numbers, but that idea was not proposed. 

Jaffrey’s contingency proposed a similar plan, adding that they would be willing to have Jaffrey’s TIF Districts – land in town worth about 16 million according to committee member Norman Langevin – be calculated into the town’s assessment value. 

Both towns discussed phasing the new proposal into place, with Rindge recommending two years and Jaffrey recommending five. No decisions were made, as the committee wanted to find out if phasing such a proposal would even be possible.

“Personally, I think it’s a balancing act,” said committee member Charlie Eicher. “What will it take for the voters to approve it?”

Langevin said that by his calculations, the proposed state aid change would have a tax impact of plus $2.25 per $1,000 of assessed value for Jaffrey and minus $1.73 per thousand for Rindge. 

Property assessments were again discussed, with the committee reaffirming that both towns should be using the same assessing firm.

The committee decided to find out whether the revaluation deadline could be moved up for each town to get Jaffrey and Rindge with the same assessing firm, which would help to equalize the assessment values in each town. Currently, each town is scheduled for a revaluation in 2020. 

A member of each town will also report at the next meeting how much their respective town pays to revaluate the town, which is state mandated to occur every five years. 

The committee has planned to meet next on June 29 at 6 p.m. at Rindge Memorial School. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.