ConVal School District budget is hitting some towns hard

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/12/2019 5:47:01 PM

Town payments to the ConVal School District are increasing for the 2019-2020 school year, hitting the towns of Bennington, Greenfield and Sharon the most.

ConVal’s total budget is estimated to increase by $2.395 million dollars, or 6.64 percent, in the current fiscal year as compared to the last. Three towns, Greenfield, Bennington, and Sharon, are estimated to increase their payments more than ten percent as compared to last year. Hancock and Dublin’s estimated payments are estimated to increase less than three percent.

Dave Jack, the interim business administrator, provided the Ledger-Transcript with the total payments received from each town for fiscal year 2019, which ended June 30, and compared them to the estimated total payments requested for fiscal year 2020.

Jack stressed that the budget estimates will be finalized in October, and final amounts are almost always lower than the initial estimates. He said that ConVal derives its payment formula from the state.

“If the number of students increases or the tax valuation changes, then that may affect the amount the town pays,” he said.

Bennington, Greenfield and Sharon’s property taxes are all being reassessed this year.

Jack identified increases in benefits costs, including health insurance, as the most substantial contributor to the overall budget increase. Additionally, he said “there’s $99,000 in a collective bargaining agreement” in this year’s budget.

“There’s nothing that has changed significantly from when the budget was proposed and it was passed,” he said.

Greenfield Town Administrator Aaron Patt said the estimates that ConVal submits at the beginning of the fiscal year typically drop with corrections after October, but “for us, this ... increase is way outside of normal. It’s almost an additional [monthly] payment through the end of the year.”

He said the increase is “bigger than anything I’ve seen in the last eight years.”

Patt said that Greenfield will need to float money to ConVal until they receive taxes from residents in December. Patt noted that other towns’ payments to ConVal increased last year while their tax rates were being reevaluated.

Patt said that the ConVal School District budgeters are responsive to the needs of constituent towns and have changed payment structures in the past to better accommodate their needs. He said the Greenfield government is looking for ConVal to “be a little bit flexible” in their payment scheduling in light of the increase.

“We hope it’s an anomaly year,” he said.


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