Pioneer School Operating Assessment Increase and Warwick

The Warwick Selectboard has taken the position that our regional school assessment can’t go up and I agree. However, to be fair, we are going to need to consider this position in a wider context which is the sum of all our school operating assessments. We send kids to two districts. Since we are sending fewer students next year to the Tech School, that affects the state’s calculation of the town’s “minimum contribution” which is the first line allocating school costs to member towns. Our calculated minimum is up about $41k while our Tech School assessment is down about $32k. The rest of the change is probably due to the Department of Revenue adjusting our taxing basis, the equalized valuation upward from $77M to $80M.

After recognizing the change in minimum contribution the provisional operating assessment number I have from the administration puts the Warwick  operating assessment up 3.7% over last year. Not part of this mix are new capital costs of the elementary school roof borrowing repayment and our share of repayment of Pioneer technology borrowing. These two capital expenses add $30k to Warwick costs, but these are not operating and are instead capital costs.

To meet Warwick’s stated need of “no increase” I calculate that a $275k budget reduction is needed (or new non property tax revenues would effect the same outcome). That was based on the historic operating expense percentage of 10%. The desired cuts would be more to the District as we are now at 9.37% operating percentage.

I also calculate that a combination of greater non-tax revenues or spending reductions totaling $100k District-wide would result in a 2.5% assessment increase which may be the best we can hope for since that is the Town of Bernardston’s position and they are our closest ally.

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