DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Derry

December 6, 2012

Derry tax bills have some homeowners reeling

(Continued)

“You are now raising more money off a smaller amount of money,” Anderson said.

The 2012 tax rate breaks down this way: $10.39 for the town; $16.35 for the school; $2.59 for state education; $1.15 for the county. Together, the local school and statewide education tax increased 6.3 percent. That’s where town officials point when people complain about higher bills.

Voters approved a $79 million school budget in March.

“And that 62 percent of the taxes, the school side, is not capped at all,” Anderson said.

The number of children in town helps drive how much taxpayers pay for schools, he said.

“If you really want to fix the problem, put a tax cap on the school side,” he said.

The school district will have to pick up more in state retirement costs, a problem reverberating around the state.

Those costs aren’t controlled at the local level, so local officials have to cut and save what is within their control.

“We then have to pick up the ball, it will come on the back of the taxpayers,” Anderson said. “That’s the hardest part to get across to people, it’s not the town side.”

But school officials say a lot of their costs are out of their control, too.

Next year, the district faces a potential $1 million or more loss in state adequacy aid.

School Superintendent Laura Nelson said the district is looking at everything in an effort to save money.

“We are looking at all the places where we can scale down,” she said. “Our idea is to budget what we need, but are there places we can budget less?”

Nelson maintains the district is doing everything it can to keep costs down and still provide students with a good education.

She assured taxpayers their money is well spent.

“Our goal is to bring in a responsible budget,” Nelson said. “I would tell them the money they are giving is the most needed and necessary to provide an education in town.”

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