Note From Allan Herschlag
And finally some great weather and more than one day of it.
With the city council scheduled to vote on the municipal portion of the budget and the disparity in
property taxes between those who pay the school portion of their property taxes to the Concord
School District or the Merrimack Valley School District, I felt it was time to once again explain
why those in the MVSD pay $5.41 more per thousand.
The State’s Department of Education lists Equalized Valuation Per Pupil as a means to compare the
assessed value of a community and how much of that assessed value
would be available to educate each student in the community’s schools. There is enough of a
disparity between school districts that some communities can spend significantly more per pupil and
have lower tax rates than those who spend less.
So while the Merrimack Valley School District’s cost per pupil is $14,742 the cost to property
owners for the school portion of their property taxes is $18.93 per thousand. In Concord cost per
pupil is $15,693 but costs the tax payers $13.40.
And for a couple of more extreme examples Portsmouth’s costs are $18,346 per student and taxes are
$4.96 per thousand, while Waterville Valley’s cost per pupil is $42,810 and the school portion of
their taxes are $1.53.
Only seven other communities in the State have a lower equalized valuation per pupil than Penacook,
which brings me to the reason I am writing this.
I am sick and tired of the hooey (nonsense) from those on the city council when they ask residents
from Penacook when testifying - who pay their school taxes to the MVSD - if they understand the
different portions of their tax bill. In fact I find it insulting.
Of course the genesis for the questioning from the council is to blame the MVSD for the high taxes
paid in Penacook, while absolving themselves and the city administration for the disparity in taxes
between Concord residents in the MVSD and CSD.
So let’s look at the facts. Tax rates are a function of the value of property, the cost of the
services, and the number of people those services are provided for. So let’s say you have
$100,000 dollars in value and you have $10,000 in costs. If a community has 100 people the cost per
person is $100 and if there are 1,000 people cost per person is $10.
But wait that isn’t how it works. The number of students effects the costs for the schools. The
more students the higher the costs. Having more students doesn’t increase the assessed value of a
community, yet the assessed value forms the base that determines the tax rate.
So let’s look at your taxes in the real world and use real examples.
Those living in the CSD have a total property value of $3.68 billion (yes that’s billion). They
have 4,383.02 students on a daily average attending Concord schools (ADM) and they have $840,003
from assessed values to pay for each student.
In Penacook the total assessment is $383 million (that’s million, not billion) The average number
of students attending school each day is 807 (from Penacook) and we have
$474,782 to pay for each student. That’s 44% less than is available for the CSD.
Of the five towns that make up the MVSD, Penacook has the lowest equalized valuation per pupil.
Boscawen’s is $630,522 or 25% more; Louden’s is $526,811 or 10% more; Salisbury’s is $667,795 or
29% higher and Webster’s is $836,484 or 44% higher.
In fact Franklin’s equalized rate is higher than Penacook’s at $504,758 or almost 10%
more. And Pittsfield’s valuation is only 10% lower than Penacook’s.
So why does this matter and what do all the numbers mean and why does the city have a role in the
high taxes paid in Penacook?
Here’s what it means. The higher the ratio between assessed value and the fewer the number of
students going to a community’s schools (equalized valuation per pupil), the lower the school
portion of your property taxes will be.
The city plays a role in this because the city administration, planning board and city council
determine policy, create ordinances and carry out those policies, that than determine plans for
where and how our city grows. It is the city that determines our zoning, what types of growth
occurs and where it occurs.
It is the city council that recently voted to remove any requirement for commercial development in
a zoning district that previously required them. And it is the city administration, the city
council and city boards that continue to encourage residential development in Penacook with no
regard for how the required services for the new residential development will be paid for.
So the next time the Mayor or Councilor Coen or any other member of the city council insults a
member of our community from the MVSD as to their ability to understand their tax bills, just
remind them that it is their actions that have led to the disparity in the tax rates between the
CSD and MVSD.
*Some numbers may not add up as they are taken from different sources and different tax years.
To view the full report:
To view breakdown of tax rates statewide:
And to view cost per pupil by District:
https://www.education.nh.gov/data/documents/cost per pupil by district/18.pdf
As always you can contact me at: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
or 224-6086 - Allan
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