Thoughts on Act 46 impact on Calais and Worcester
School Choice and 2 percent caps are not the only major problems with Act 46 – Consolidation of Schools.
Take the U-32 district – there are 5 feeder towns to the high school – Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex and Worcester – all use U-32 Jr/Sr High School – no problem with school choice there.
U-32 Jr/Sr High School is making progress meeting whatever budget goals are set for it. The Superintendent's office loves the idea of one board meeting a month. The fact that the consolidated board will be unwieldy is even better for the Superintendent as there will be never be a majority who will disagree with whatever agenda the Super pushes.
But .it gets much worse than that for the two small towns, Calais and Worcester. Both towns have carefully and regularly tended to the school building itself over the years – including bonding when necessary. Those towns – which will be in the minority in the consolidated district and on the consolidated board – have paid down all their debt and have solid buildings in place.
Now comes consolidation – which requires all the finances of the towns to be co-mingled. In the last year or two both Middlesex and East Montpelier have committed to some very large bonds for building maintenance and expansion. Now comes Berlin who, according to reports in the 11 November 2015, Times Argus, has done little to maintain the building since it was built in 1969. They are facing huge financial needs to upgrade venting, roofs, and most of all the heating system – and they are looking forward to consolidation so they can share the financial load of their proposed bond with the 4 other towns.
So, those towns that have bonded recently will actually enjoy a reduction in their tax rate through consolidation than their rate would have been under present circumstances. But Calais and Worcester will suffer with a much higher tax rate than their rate would be under present circumstances.
Obviously the answer is for Calais and Worcester to vote "NO" when the consolidation vote comes forward, just as Elmore did recently.
But hold on – the state will then jump in and punish us financially by penalizing us with an even higher tax rate for not consolidating – but that won't happen until 2018.
Let's wait and see if the legislature will revisit its fuzzy math and magical thinking.
That's not the only bad thing – stay tuned for other issues.