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Newport School Rate Won’t Rise

Amended Filing  Will Keep Tax Steady

Newport — Property owners will not see the projected increase in the school tax rate that was presented to the Selectboard this week, SAU 43 Business Manager Chuck Stuart said Tuesday.

On Monday night, Town Manager Paul Brown, relying on paperwork filed with the Department of Revenue Administration, estimated the new overall tax rate would increase $1.57 per $1,000 of assessed value, adding $235 in annual property taxes on a home assessed at $150,000. Brown presents estimated figures to the board every year before the DRA sets the rate.

“I think it was a little premature at this point,” Stuart said about estimating the school portion of the tax rate.

Stuart said he has to send updated revenue figures to the Department of Revenue Administration on a form used to calculate the tax rate.

“There will be no increase in the school rate,” he said.

That increase presented by Brown broke down to a municipal rise of 32 cents and a combined local and state school rate rise of $1.32, but the county rate decreased by seven cents.

The town and county rates are about on target from the estimates in the spring.

Without the school rate increase, the overall rate would go up just 25 cents or $37.50 a year on a $150,000 home.

In March, before the annual school meeting vote, residents were told that if the budget and all warrant articles passed, which they did, the combined state and local school tax rate would decrease about 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Stuart said Tuesday that when he submitted the district’s MS-24 — a form that includes projected revenue figures — prior to the Sept. 1 deadline, some of the numbers were still in flux.

“In late August, I did not have any confidence in those numbers,” he said. “I have to guess some and amend it later on. Now I have a better idea of what those numbers are.”

Stuart said the amended form would reflect a “bump” in catastrophic aid (from the state) and a $22,000 adjustment in building aid. Furthermore, he said Medicaid reimbursement is looking better so that revenue line will increase as well.

The school district will be getting funds from the Local Government Center for its share of a court-ordered refund from 2010. LGC offers insurance to municipalities and school districts statewide.

“We knew we were getting money (from the LGC) but did not know how much, so it wasn’t in there,” Stuart said about the first data sent to the Department of Revenue Administration. “Now we know it is $218,000.”

The higher revenues will offset any increase in taxes.

Estimating the school tax rate before the March vote is problematic, Stuart said, because there are so many unknowns.

“There are too many factors and we have to fix them in the fall,” he said.

Federal sequester cuts, state and federal aid and the state budget are never certain when voters go to the polls, he said.

Town Manager Brown said Tuesday he spoke with Stuart and learned the amended revenue numbers would mean no school tax increase.

“That is great news,” said Brown.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.