Vote NO on $23,815,015.00 School Bond

They want even more this year! Now it’s $23,815,015.00.

Once is never enough, it seems. If a massive boondoggle doesn’t pass muster with the voters the first time… Try, try again, right?

Last year they wanted $23,760,000.00. Now our school district is at it again, asking for $23,815,015.00. That’s an increase of $55,015. All for a school system that lost another 36 students this year!

Taxes, taxes, and more taxes

Once again, the Mascoma Valley Regional School District is asking us for $24 MILLION in order to renovate the high school in Canaan. This year, they’ve split the project up into multiple ballot questions, so at first glance it looks like it costs less… but if you add it all up, it actually costs even more.

Property tax increase per $1,000 of assessed value
Year 1 * Year 2 * Year 3 * Year 4 * Year 5+ **
Canaan $0.00 $0.524 $0.859 $0.052 $1.435
Dorchester $0.00 $0.460 $0.790 $0.035 $1.285
Enfield $0.00 $0.375 $0.614 $0.037 $1.026
Grafton $0.00 $0.523 $0.856 $0.056 $1.435
Orange $0.00 $0.561 $0.970 $0.055 $1.586

* These figures are cumulative, that is, each increase is an increase on top of the previous year’s increase. ** These figures are the total increased tax rate due to the bond—these will set in in five years and then remain in place for twenty-plus years!

This table shows what we all will pay in increased property tax bills until 2037 if this expansion of the
high school is approved this year. Even if you don’t own property, don’t forget—if you rent, you still pay
property taxes indirectly. Your landlord pays, and so you pay, too. Increased property taxes
means increased rent!

And, if history is any guide, by the time this bond is paid off, over two decades from now, the district
will probably be back asking for another bond—or another whole new school like they did in 2008.

The entire 2013–14 budget for the Mascoma Valley Region School District is approximately $21.6 million. This planned expansion and renovation of the Mascoma High School more than doubles that figure.

The school district touts this project as a way to raise property values. This might be beneficial to you if you ever plan to sell your house. But in the meantime, what it means is that not only do your taxes go up in dollars-per-thousand terms, but if your property values rise more than others (for example, if you’re closer to the high school, if you live along the lake, or own commercial property), your taxes will go up even more!

Just like last year, there will be NO state or federal funding for this expansion. The ENTIRE cost of this project—all $23,815,015.00 of it—will be imposed on local property owners and renters over the next two decades.

Still losing students

Just like last year, the MVRSD student body is still shrinking: In 2008, enrollment across the whole school district was 1,428 students. The next year, it was down to 1,360—a loss of 68 students. Last year, enrollment was down to 1,281 students—another 79 students lost. This year? They’re down to 1,245, a loss of another 36 students. There has been a steady, consistent drop in enrollment since 1994, when there were 1,629 students. (Source: The 2013–14 school district report, p. 51.) Is this the right time for us to be embarking on a renovation and expansion of the high school?

Bizarrely, the school district’s recent taxpayer-funded flier advocating for this project claimed that “there seems to be a growing rumor about declining enrollment” (emphasis added). It’s not a rumor—their own hard data, from their own annual report, bears this out.

In these tough economic times, with people losing their jobs and their homes, prices of everything from food to gas going up, and our property taxes already increasing, do we really want to pay for a costly expansion and renovation to this school system… which is losing students?

What did I just vote for anyway…?

If you vote yes on #3, you don’t even know what you’re really voting for—is it $23,815,015 or only $21,815,000? That’s a two million dollar difference! The entire school ballot this year is a morass of changing dollar figures depending on the passage or failure of other articles on the ballot. The truth is, no matter how you vote, you don’t even know for sure what you’re getting nor how much you’re paying!

The budget article (question #2) is this same mess of shifting numbers. Are they just trying to confuse us into passing all these?

And, at the same time that the district is asking us to fund this $24M bond, the teachers are asking for a $229,215 pay raise, and the support staff want $77,072. Wow!

Area business owners: They want you gone

If you are an area business owner, you should have been at a meeting the school district held on February 24. One of the presenters for the school, Bob Cusick, described how a freshly renovated and improved high school would attract development up and down the U.S. Route 4 corridor through Enfield and Canaan. He then spent several minutes describing how awful he thinks the existing local businesses along Route 4 are, singling out an unnamed “petrol station” and a “guitar shop,” explaining how he would never shop at these places and how he couldn’t imagine how anyone would want to do so, either.

Unbelievable. At last year’s public hearing, we caught state representative and current Grafton budget committee member, Catherine Mulholland, openly telling the School Board that they should intentionally use “scare tactics” in order to convince us to vote for this project. But even that pales in comparison’s to Mr. Cusick’s behavior this year.

So if you own a business in the area, you can “thank” the Mascoma Valley Regional School District by voting NO on question #3.

The Mascoma Valley Taxpayers Union endorses Robert Constantine for the Grafton position on the MVRSD School Board. Bob not only opposes this expensive renovation project but wants to serve on the board to find ways of educating our children without costing us millions in property taxes. He previously served on the school district’s budget committee for three years. As a personal example, Bob has pledged to not accept any pay for his term on the School Board.

Please vote for Robert Constantine for School Board.

If you don’t think we should pay a bloated, wasteful $24 MILLION over more than TWENTY YEARS for an expansion to a shrinking school district, VOTE NO on QUESTION #3 on the school ballot this March 12!

How and where to vote

Please don’t forget to vote on March 12. Last year this $24M boondoggle was defeated by the slimmest of margins, so we need every fed-up taxpayer to come out this year and VOTE NO on #3 on the school district (yellow) ballot.

Where and when to vote
Canaan Canaan Fire Station 8 AM – 7 PM
Dorchester Dorchester Town Hall 11 AM – 7 PM
Enfield Whitney Hall Auditorium 8 AM – 7 PM
Grafton Grafton Fire Station 8 AM – 7 PM
Orange Orange Town House 11 AM – 7 PM

When voting, don’t forget your license! New Hampshire passed a voter ID law in 2012, which requires you to have government ID such as your drivers license or passport when you go to the polls.

If you’ve never voted before, we urge you to register this year and cast your first vote in favor of lower taxes and protecting and respecting property rights. New Hampshire allows same-day voter registration, right at the polling places! All you need to register is your drivers license or similar government ID to prove your identity, and a lease, mortgage document, or utility bill showing your residential address to prove your residence.

Even if you cannot provide such documentation, you still cannot be denied the right to register to vote. New Hampshire law allows you to establish your residence via a “domicile affidavit” and your identity with a “qualified voter affidavit.” Both forms can be downloaded from

Thank you!

Paid for by the Mascoma Valley Taxpayers Union using 100% voluntarily raised funds—unlike the school district’s two taxpayer-funded fliers advocating for us to vote yes on question #3.

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