Few attend Mascenic tax cap hearings in Greenville and New Ipswich

Bob Romeril of New Ipswich asks what a 1.2% tax cap would mean for the district’s ability to increase the budget at the Mascnenic Regional High School auditorium on Friday.

Bob Romeril of New Ipswich asks what a 1.2% tax cap would mean for the district’s ability to increase the budget at the Mascnenic Regional High School auditorium on Friday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

School Board members Eric Neilson, Tom Falter and Keryn Matson host a brief public hearing on a proposed tax cap at the Mascnenic Regional High School auditorium on Friday.

School Board members Eric Neilson, Tom Falter and Keryn Matson host a brief public hearing on a proposed tax cap at the Mascnenic Regional High School auditorium on Friday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

School Board member Julie Lampinen, Superintendent Christine Martin and School Board Chair Rachel Anderson host a brief public hearing on a proposed tax cap at the Mascnenic Regional High School auditorium on Friday.

School Board member Julie Lampinen, Superintendent Christine Martin and School Board Chair Rachel Anderson host a brief public hearing on a proposed tax cap at the Mascnenic Regional High School auditorium on Friday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

By ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 02-26-2024 10:55 AM

The Mascenic School Board held two public hearings last week to receive feedback on a petition warrant article which would cap tax increases from school spending at 1.2%, but both saw scant attendance and lasted only a few minutes each, with little feedback from the public.

The article, submitted by petition to the district, proposed a tax cap which would prevent a governing body or budget committee from submitting a recommended budget that would increase local taxes by more than 1.2%. The article was controversial at the district’s deliberative session on Feb. 7, with two residents attempting to amend the article to allow for higher caps – 9% and 6%, respectively – but both amendments failed, and the district forwarded the article to the warrant unchanged.

As required by law, the district held public hearings on the proposed cap last week, one for Greenville residents on Thursday and New Ipswich residents on Friday. Greenville’s hearing lasted a total of six minutes and had four members of the public in attendance, none of whom chose to speak when invited by School Board Chair Rachel Anderson.

New Ipswich’s hearing was even shorter, lasting only four minutes, with five members of the public in attendance. District Moderator Bob Romeril asked a question of the board – “What does 1.2% mean on taxes to be raised from New Ipswich for the school district budget?”

Anderson said she did not have the exact figures for each town, but said under current conditions, it would have allowed an increase of about $140,000 in addition to the current budget for the current fiscal year.

“To put that in perspective, that allowed amount of 1.2% would not have covered the collective bargaining agreements, and it would not have covered some uncontrollable costs such as health insurance, liability insurance or utilities,” Anderson said.

The district had initially proposed a budget of $21.45 million, which was a $474,523 increase from the previous year. Following a $1 million cut to the proposed budget that passed during the deliberative session, the School Board has recommended against the budget. Failure at the ballot box would result in the district implementing a default budget, which, while now higher than the proposed budget, is still $307,182 less than the budget initially proposed by the board.

Under the default budget, the School Board has looked at cuts that include four positions across the district, reduction of programs and electives, including Advanced Placement and honors classes, and Alternative Pathways to Completion such as work-based learning expansion, extended learning opportunity expansion, expansion of credit recovery and test preparation for high school completion exams.

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The district decides all matters on the warrant by ballot vote. New Ipswich residents will vote on all warrant articles, including the proposed tax cap, at Mascenic Regional High School on March 12 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Greenville residents vote at the SAU offices (former Greenville Elementary School) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 12.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on X @AshleySaariMLT.