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ConVal School District

Board mulls how to use $639K LGC rebate

  • The ConVal School Board met on Tuesday to discuss how to apply the Local Government Center refund.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ella Teevan)
  • The ConVal School Board met on Tuesday to discuss how to apply the Local Government Center refund.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ella Teevan)

PETERBOROUGH — The ConVal School Board will vote at its next meeting on whether to fund a school project or to lower taxes with a $638,966 refund from the Local Government Center.

At a School Board meeting Tuesday, board members discussed how to use and distribute the refund on contributions paid for insurance premiums in 2011. Board members were divided about whether to return the money to taxpayers or use the money for the ConVal High School parking lot project, which is currently in progress.

One option available to the board is to use the refund to lower taxes for the 2013-14 year, according to district Business Administrator Marian Alese. Board member Rich Cahoon of Antrim favored this course of action, moving to use the refund to lower the 2013-14 tax rate. Alese pointed out that this option would only reduce taxes for one year, and that the tax rate for the 2014-15 year would appear to increase substantially, relative to the decreased 2013-14 rate.

Matthew Craig, the representative from Sharon, said he believed the money should not be used only to lower taxes. He opposed Cahoon’s motion “on the grounds that there are other unfunded items in our budget right in front of us,” specifically the parking lot, he said.

The construction project, which according to two bids the board received could cost up to an estimated $864,000, currently has no other substantial and guaranteed source of funding, Alese said by phone Wednesday. The board’s decision regarding how to use the LGC refund will most likely determine whether the district can afford to replace the subgrade material below the parking lot, or whether it must make do with patching the lot’s surface.

Board members were unsure as of Tuesday’s meeting whether the board could choose to use part of the refund to reduce taxes and part of it as unanticipated revenue to fund a project like the parking lot. The N.H. Department of Revenue holds the power to approve such a division of the refund, if it is taken as a check, Alese said at the meeting. Because of this uncertainty, the board decided to postpone its vote until after its ability to split the sum to serve multiple purposes had been confirmed.

Stewart Brock, the representative from Francestown, said at the meeting that he sees the issue as one of the board’s responsibility to its towns. He opposed Cahoon’s motion to use the whole refund to reduce taxes, but he said he would oppose using the whole refund for the parking lot as well. Neither the parking lot nor the tax rate, he said, should receive 100 percent of the money. “The state passes a lot down that’s unfunded, and we have to do partly the right thing, which is give it back. It gives good faith back to the town.”

Pierce Rigrod, the Hancock representative, raised a concern about who gets to decide how the district uses the money. The $638,996, he pointed out, is a rebate. “It’s money overpaid by someone for specific purpose. If this is an overpayment, who overpaid?” He said the board should not lose sight of “the democratic process in terms of deciding where this money goes.” He is not opposed, he said, to giving people, not just the board, a voice in that decision.

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