To The Daily Sun,
Once again the Laconia School Department's "problem" is the city's tax cap, in place since 2005, and not its own excessive spending.
Where does the School Department think its funding comes from? Wikipedia states Laconia's 2000 population was 16,411, and its 2010 population was 15,951. The median income is $45,307. Of course there are many wealthy people, too, in our city, but overall Laconia cannot be described as prosperous. Sixty percent of our students receive free and assisted school meals. New Hampshire's average is 30 percent. During the summer months the fantastic program Got Lunch! feeds more than 600 students. Food insecurity represents financial distress. This is not a prosperous community.
According to childrennh.org NH Kids Count, in 2013-14, New Hampshire had 28.3 percent economically disadvantaged children. Laconia had 57.2 percent.
I've lived in Laconia and have been a taxpayer for the past 35 years. I've seen enough "do what's best for the children" headlines. This is just the latest one. "No Money. No Child Care." Really? Before, they implied they'd cut band or football — always high-profile programs. This, despite solutions being offered to either increase enrollment or tuition at the Huot Center.
Other cities have tax caps, including Manchester. It manages. So can Laconia.
A few fiscal questions have come to mind which perhaps others might also like answered:
— What was the school enrollment in 2005, and what is it today? According to NH.gov, Dept. of Education, we now have about 400 fewer students.
— How many administrators, teachers (part- and full-time), support and specialists, etc. were there in 2005, compared with today?
— How many teacher substitute days were used and at what cost, in 2005, and today?
— How much taxpayer money has been spent on "early retirement" between 2005 and today? For how many people?
— How much was paid, in total, for health insurance for these early retirees until they turned 65?
— What percent of the city budget was the School Department's in 2005 and today?
A Laconia Daily Sun headline on July 9, 2015, page 9, read, "Zero inflation factor in '15 likely to put severe
strain on Laconia budget in 2016." The city manager and Ed Emond (the School District's business administrator) were quoted, so this latest funding "problem" is not at all unexpected. Or it shouldn't be.
Yet, as usual, the School Department of this small, unprosperous city continues to spend beyond many people's and businesses' ability to pay. This is nothing new. Most working people, and certainly taxpaying seniors, with their own finite incomes, cannot afford unlimited, unreasonable taxation.
The problem is not the tax cap. That is the solution.