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Early closures to be reflected in school tax assessments

July 30, 2020
WOLFEBORO — The Governor Wentworth Regional School District has offered assurance in response to a request from the Effingham Board of Selectmen (EBOS) for a reduction in the school tax rate this fall.

The EBOS sent a letter to the select boards of all district towns asking them to join together in asking the district to reduce the tax burden as "the unknowns of the 'new normal' and financial insecurity weigh heavily upon all of us."

Its June 30 letter to the board listed assumed reductions in costs or potentially no costs associated with a number of categories. The reply from the district came soon after and was sent to all the select boards. Superintendent Kathy Cuddy-Egbert and School Board Chairman Jack Widmer wrote that they shared the EBOS's sentiment that "these are hard times for many of our community members" and stated that the District will continue the practice of returning all unassigned general fund balance to the taxpayers.

Districts are allowed by state law to retain year-end unassigned general funds of up to 2.5 percent of the current year's net assessment but the board has never voted to do so. The books closed on June 30 showing an estimated unreserved fund balance of $2.5 million, an increase over last year's fund balance of over $1.2 million dollars. After the August audit, the unreserved fund balance will be apportioned based on each town's contribution to the budget. The effect will be seen this fall when the New Hampshire Department of Revenue sets the tax rate.

As for reductions in expenses with the school closure in March several on the EBOS' list were not reduced. In particular, while there were not expenses for paper, pencils and consumable supplies, remote learning created a need for Chromebooks, Wi-Fi hotspots and software.

The food service program, which is a self-sustaining, federally funded operation which costs the community nothing in tax dollars, provided more than 3,000 meals a week to help families in need of food.

Martin Lord & Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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