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Jefferson sets tax rate


by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
December 02, 2020
JEFFERSON — During a remote Nov. 20 meeting in Jefferson, the Select Board was presented with two options regarding the tax rate.

The first, read "DRA rate with no "undesignated fund balance" being used, the rate being $23.32 County $5.02; Town $2.96; Local School $13.23; State Education $2.11."

The second was written as follows: "Applying $50,000 of the "undesignated fund balance" rate, the rate being $22.93 County $5.02; Town $2.57; Local School $13.23; State Education $2.11."

Board member Cindy Silver relayed that she had concerns, when the County, Town and State Education has all decreased and the local school increases. She added that there must be funds available to the School District that could be used to reduce the tax rate.

Apparently, the increase was due to the school budget that was passed in March. Silver, acknowledging that fact, stated that at that time no one was aware that COVID would hit the way it had. With that she requested the Board refuse the rate and possibly send it back for the school to recalculate.

Board Chair Tom Brady explained that the budget process is the same across the board and that what was approved last spring now had to be funded.

Brady asked what the balance was of the undesignated fund balance after using $50,000. That number is $703,034. According to Linda Cushman, the lowest the undesignated fund balance could be drawn down to would be $190,662.

Cushman went on to explain that the municipal accounting is done on an accrual basis, not a cash basis. This means that not all of the $700,000 is cash in the bank, some is uncollected taxes that will be collected.

Board member Kevin Meehan inquired as to what would happen if the Board used $100,000 to help reduce the rate. Using that amount would decrease the Town rate by 39 cents. Cushman recommended not using the full amount, with the effect of COVID still up in the air.

Meehan made a motion to use $100,000 from the undesignated fund balance to reduce the tax rate to $22.55. Silver seconded the motion.

The Board voted unanimously in the affirmative.

Silver said, "Due to COVID, it would have been really nice to keep everything the same as last year, but we did the best we could under the budget constraints that we are under, and we were able to grab that undesignated fund amount to bring it down."

In other Jefferson news, the old school, which is now the community building is making progress. Silver explained that the asbestos has been abated and that Eversource has conducted their thermal audits on the building and will proceed with lighting upgrades soon.

"We are moving forward; we're just slowly starting to get the wheels turning. Obviously, COVID halted or slowed things down a bit but things are progressing," said Silver.

Martin Lord Osman
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