Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes & Agendas

Nov 19, 2018

BOS Tax Rate Setting Minutes 11-19-18


TOWN OF LITTLETON
BOARD OF SELECTMEN’S MEETING
3:30 PM
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2018
  TOWN OFFICE CONFERENCE ROOM
SETTING OF THE TAX RATE

 

Present:  Town Manager Andrew Dorsett, Chairman Schuyler Sweet, Vice Chairman Franco Rossi, Selectperson Carrie Gendreau, Finance Director Karen Noyes, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings

 

Others Present:  Ron Bolt, Rudy Gelsi, Justin Roshak (The Courier).

 

Sweet called the meeting to order at 3:30 PM.

 

Noyes said she has been working with the DRA (Department of Administration) on setting the tax rate. Noyes provided the board with a couple of handouts.  The first handout was the tax rate break down if they were to use $200,000 of the overlay and zero on the unreserved-undesignated fund balance.  The other document is for using $150,000 in the overlay, and zero on the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. 

 

Sweet asked Noyes to explain the difference between the overlay and the unreserved-undesignated fund balance.  Noyes explained the overlay is for abatements that have occurred this year and what might occur next year.  Due to the reval, Noyes believes there will be some abatements coming in.  At this time we have about $250,000 set aside.  The undesignated fund balance is $293,274 based on the audit report.  If you add from the Overlay, that is $543,000.  We have also set aside non-lapsing warrant articles.  We no longer have to encumber those type of warrant articles.  In encumbrances, we have $63,300 from last year.  There is $289,413 in prepaid and $68,174 for the deeded property.  The feeling of the budget committee was to not use any of the fund balance.  Noyes said she does not recommend using any fund balance whatsoever. The funds are tight and interest rates are going up.  In the past the interest rates were below 2%.  If we took a TAN it was not costing us very much.  The school is working closely with us to avoid taking a TAN.  She was going to ask for a TAN this month, but the school has agreed to postpone one of their payments.   Sweet added to Noyes remarks regarding interest rates.  The projections from the Federal Reserve are another increase this year and three more next year.  Gendreau said their predictions have been right on. Noyes said the good news is that all of our loans are under 4%. 

Noyes said the school has reserved out of their fund balance $150,000.  Noyes then reviewed her calculations on the setting of the tax rate.  By using $200,000 of the of the overlay the tax rate would be $23.10.  The 2017 tax rate was $25.82.  Noyes went on to advise that if they used $150,000 overlay, the rate would be $23.04. The fund balance is at a very low percentage.  Sweet asked if there was a state-recommended amount.  Noyes said the state recommends a minimum of 5%.  That would be over one million.  The only way to get the fund balance up is to set aside about $900,000 and that would set the tax rate sky high.  The other way is if we budget our revenues less when we set the tax rate.  Noyes said she budgets as close as she can.  Rossi said that is how a budget should be. 

 

Sweet suggested to let anyone ask questions before they make a motion.  Rossi said that in respect to the fund balance, the $543,000 that causes him no discomfort at all. He thinks the 5% state recommendation is way too high.  Noyes said that next year they should ask the school to turn over more of their fund balance.  Sweet said there was a 17% increase in the assessed value and people are going to think there should be a reduction in their taxes.  Sweet went on to say no matter what they do, that is not going to be the case.  Sweet said the public is not aware of how little wiggle room exists at this table.  They think it is the selectmen that set the tax rate, but that is not the case.  Dorsett said he looked at all of the tax rates for last year and we were just below average.  Sweet said the tax rate was high and a couple of months later the public passes all of the warrant articles.  He thought if there was that much of an outcry, warrant articles would begin to suffer.  Rossi said that a $200,000 home is going to have an increase of around $250 a year in taxes.  Gendreau said Lisbon’s tax rate is $34.14 per thousand. 

 

Ron Bolt asked if the board had the figure for the Townwide tax base is. Dorsett said they had a valuation of Eight Hundred and Eighteen Million and that is with all of the exemptions.  The gross number was something like Nine Hundred Something Million.  Rudy Gelsi said that in two or three weeks, he is going to start to talk with people.  He does not really want to trash anybody.  Gelsi asked the board to explain how they raised some values and lowered others.  Sweet said the board did not raise the assessments.  The reval did that.  Dorsett said it is done on a case by case basis.  There are state guidelines that have to be followed.  Sweet said the taxpayer votes on the budget and the warrant articles.  If you want to lower the tax rate then defeat those numbers.  Gelsi said the majority of voters is about 800 or 900 people.  They are high-class people because the middlemen do not come to vote.  Sweet said the fact of the matter is this board has little to do with the assessment or the tax rate. 

 

Sweet asked for a motion.  Gendreau made the motion to set the tax rate at $23.10. Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

The meeting adjourned at 3:59 PM.