New London School District taxes set to fall more than planned

NEW LONDON — After a discussion on the fiscal year 2020 tax levy, the New London School Board resolved to set the planned tax levy at $16.86, below the initially proposed amount of $17.

On Monday, March 18, the New London School Board met for their regular meeting to set a property tax levy for the 2020 fiscal year and confirm a date for the Budget Hearing.

At the start of the meeting, district superintendent Chad Wahls proposed a $17 property tax levy, which would put the property tax levy 56 cents below last year’s. The $17 property tax levy would represent the amount residential property owners in the district would pay per thousand dollars their property is valued at.

This follows a March 12 meeting where the board brought in financial specialist Mathew Gillaspie from Piper-Jaffray to present projections and possible options for the district going into the future.

“What I don’t want to do is I don’t want to drop the tax rate to, let’s say, $16.30 and then all of a sudden it goes back up to $16.60 (next year),” said Wahls, advocating for a tax rate they could keep gradually dropping year to year. “I’d rather go $17 or $16.80 if we can. If we talk about a five-year goal, where do we want to be at? We want to be at $16 flat.”

Board member Jesse Howard pushed for a bigger drop than the 56 cents recommended, the $17 levy would offer.

“We’re not in fear of running our taxes too high,” Howard said. “I’d like to get below $17 if possible and have a goal for what we’re doing.”

Board President Lindsay Porter also felt Howard’s desire for a clearer vision if they were going to have a $17 tax levy.

“If we were asked why (we) need $418,000 in the management fund, it would be nice to be able to say that in three years we’re going to try to save the district money by offering (something else),” Porter said. “But we don’t know what the vision is yet, so it’s hard to know: do we need $418,000 in the management fund?”

Board members Travis Bentz and Skye Wellington agreed that they wouldn’t mind seeing the tax levy go below $17 for the year as well.

Following roughly 30 minutes of discussion, the board agreed to set the proposed tax levy at $16.86, following which Howard made a motion to confirm this amount seconded by Travis Bentz. The motion passed unanimously, meaning the district’s management fund for the year is projected at $400,000. According to Boyer, the management fund would be used to pay Early Retirment, Unemployment, Insurance Premiums and Workers Comp. Should the district pay more than that $400,000 in those areas, they would have to temporarily borrow money from different district funds.

The board will meet again on April 1 at 7 p.m. for the fiscal year 2020 budget meeting where they will adopt the budget following a public hearing.