School district passes final budget; taxes to increase 4.6 percent
The Concord School Board finalized its budget last night at roughly $73.6 million, with the estimate that city residents will pay about $13.54 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed property value.
The board votes on a budget for the next year each April but has the ability to revisit it in October when federal and state revenue is known. The budget passed last night is very close to the one passed in April, with a slight tax bump based on decreased state adequacy aid and federal special education funding.
The board’s primary discussion last night centered on whether to put an unexpected $636,000 in revenue into reserve funds or to put it toward the budget and lower the tax rate. After much discussion, board members voted 8-0 to put roughly $330,000 toward the tax rate, $75,000 into an instructional trust fund and $225,000 into a special education trust fund. The tax rate will go up about 4.6 percent from last year, which is about $150 extra on a $250,000 home.
Board members said they felt giving residents relief while also setting aside money in case federal and state revenues continue to decrease was an appropriate and fair compromise. Having money in the special education fund will be increasingly important if the state government continues to lower its adequacy payments and special education isn’t restored at the federal level. The district lost 5 percent of its federal special education funding this year. Concord will also go into next school year down about $800,000 because the new contract with Deerfield will bring in less tuition money.
At this point, the board still doesn’t know what to expect in adequacy payments because the state won’t give the district a final number until November. “I’d like to put a plea into the Legislature to stop fooling around with adequacy (money),” board President Kass Ardinger said.
Superintendent Chris Rath said she thinks the board passed a solid budget.
“We had to react to the (special education) cutback of 5 percent in the budget, and the cut in adequacy and the change in valuation,” she said. “So there were three forces that came together that I think the board struggled with tonight and made, in my view, really reasonable, responsible decisions.”