Keene school budget passes by wide margin
Voters elect two school board incumbents
Keene Central School District voters overwhelmingly approved the district’s proposed $7,680,182 school budget on Tuesday.
Incumbent Keene Central School District Board of Education members Molly Jacobson and Jen Kazmierczak got 129 votes and 127 votes, respectively, in Tuesday’s election, earning them a 2022-2025 term.
The district’s 2022-23 budget was approved 98 to 41. In total, 139 ballots were cast in Tuesday’s election. That’s a slight increase over 106 ballots cast last year.
The district’s 2022-23 budget carries a 13.2% increase in spending, from $6,785,500 last year to $7,680,182 this year. The district will levy, or collect, $6,151,543 from taxpayers — an increase from $5,695,040 last year — to pay for the majority of the district’s expenses.
The district’s tax cap set by the state — which limits how much a school district can increase its tax levy — is set at 8.02% for 2022-23. That’s higher than in most other local districts, which usually have tax caps around 2%. Keene Central School District Superintendent Daniel Mayberry said earlier this month that the district’s tax cap is higher than average in part because of increased payments on the districts capital project, which accounts for $610,000 of the 2022-23 budget. He said that capital expenses aren’t included in the state comptroller’s tax cap calculation for school districts.
Mayberry estimated earlier this month that district taxpayers would have a tax rate of $11.26 per $1,000 in assessed value if the budget passed. These rates could change after Essex County releases updated tax rolls later this year.
Last year the tax rate was $10.41 for school district taxpayers in Keene and $9.25 for district taxpayers in Jay, according to Mayberry. He said the tax rate has been similar in both towns for the last few years, but the tax rate in Jay dropped last year to make up for a miscalculation in equalization rates for the towns.
Each town assesses its properties differently, and the state has something called an equalization rate to ensure that each town’s taxpayers pay their fair share in school taxes. The equalization rate brings each towns’ assessments to full market value to make up for any differences in how properties are assessed. Jay’s equalization rate is 100% and Keene’s rate is 91.7%, according to Mayberry.