By Chris Paul
The Londonderry Town Council was given the proposed tax rate for the upcoming property tax bills that will be going out before the end of the year and members were unable to give a definitive final figure.
The town’s Finance Director, Justin Campo, came before the Council on Monday night, Nov. 7, during public comment to inform members that the current rate will be up 10 cents over last year’s rate of $18.38 per thousand.
The $18.48 rate means that with a $500,000 home, Londonderry residents will pay $9,240 in yearly taxes.
Campo asked the council if they wished to lower the current rate back to last year’s amount through the Undesignated Fund Balance (UFB) account and a decision has yet to be made in that regard.
Campo pointed out that the Town Council used $1 million dollars of the UFB last year to lower the tax rate by about 16 cents and if they wanted to lower it again, it would take $200,000 out of the UFB account.
Councilor, Deb Paul, paused, saying that she’d like to digest what was just given to them.
The chairman, John Farrell, asked what the deadline is to come up with a tax rate and Campo suggested the sooner the better.
Farrell added that the UFB balance is at about $5 million with the Granite Ridge tax settlement of 1.7 million added, leaving just over $6.7 million in UFB.
He also said the account usually sits at about $8 million and thought the taxpayers needed to “ride one out” this year, but left it up to other councilors.
At that point, the council put off further discussion until later in the meeting, saying the longer they wait, the closer to Christmas the tax bills would be getting to residents.
The council continued the tax rate discussion before ending the meeting.
Councilor Chad Franz, asked what 1¢ equaled in terms of the tax rate and Campo responded that it would be $50,000.
Campo stated that had the council not lowered the rate last year, the tax rate would actually decrease this year.
Ferrell stated that the council has basically been “Robbing Peter to pay Paul and at some point you need to square things up.”
Campo added that the 10¢ increase on the tax rate on a $500,000 home would increase the tax bill by $50.
Franz thought a compromise might be the solution. Half of what they had discussed would bring the rate up by five cents.
The tax rate breakdown for the upcoming bills is as follows: The Municipal rate equals $4.25; Local Education equals $12.31; State Education, $1.18; and County $0.74.
Councilor, Deb Paul, expressed her concerns with the state of the economy and how the council has heard how residents have been struggling. She felt that the council should bring the tax rate back through the UFB this year, but look for more long-term solutions during the budget process.
Councilor, Joe Green, agreed with Paul, saying he would be voting to keep the tax rate where it was last year.
There was some discussion about holding the school district accountable for keeping the tax rate level and Paul suggested the council attend a school board meeting as a united group.
Farrell pointed out that the town has recently given back to the taxpayers several times. Through the elderly tax-exemptions, the veterans credit, and the money they’ve already contributed through the UFB. He added they have given back about $7 million over the past few years.
Ultimately, the council tabled the discussion until their next meeting, which will take place on Monday, Nov. 14.