ANSON — Some residents in School Administrative District 74 questioned a proposed change to local school taxes that would shift more of the burden onto Anson residents and away from Embden residents.

The proposed change to how the school district raises money locally includes basing taxes more on student enrollment and less on property valuation.

The district school board has no recommendation on the plan, which was approved by a local cost-sharing committee, SAD 74 Superintendent Ken Coville said at Thursday’s public meeting.

About 15 people attended the meeting, which comes before a March 15 referendum and also as the town of Embden is proposing withdrawal from the district.

SAD 74 includes Anson, Embden, New Portland and Solon.

As it is in other school districts around the state, the school funding structure in SAD 74 is dictated largely by the state, which uses its Essential Programs and Services model to determine how much money the district gets from the state and how much each town must raise in local tax dollars.

However, most districts also require additional local taxes to fund their budgets on top of what the state says each town must pay. In SAD 74, the formula for calculating what additional money each town must pay is based 55 percent on enrollment and 45 percent on property valuation.

The town of Anson, which has 327 students enrolled in the district, pays almost 40 percent of the additional local tax dollars. Additional local dollars make up about 7 percent of school taxes.

Embden has about one-third the number of students enrolled, at 111 students, but pays about two-thirds the amount of additional local taxes paid by Anson. The town paid almost 28 percent of additional local taxes this year, compared to Anson’s 40 percent.

New Portland pays about 11 percent of additional local taxes and Solon pays about 21 percent. The amount paid by both of those communities would change by about one percentage point under the proposed plan.

Doug Cahill, an Anson resident who also owns property in Embden, said he thinks if the changes are approved, Anson residents would be “subsidizing big camp owners in Embden.”

Anson administrative assistant Tammy Murray also said she thinks the current tax formula is more equitable.

“This is quite a big jump,” Murray said of the proposed plan. “I think if it goes through, how are you going to stop another town from saying, ‘This isn’t working for us,’ or trying to withdraw?” she said.

One resident asked whether the vote will have any effect on Embden leaving the school district. Elizabeth Pratt, chairwoman of the Embden Withdrawal Committee, said Wednesday that Embden plans to go through the withdrawal process regardless of the referendum’s outcome, since residents already have voted once to initiate the process. A second vote is required, however, to determine whether the town will leave SAD 74.

Embden First Selectman Chuck Taylor also said earlier in the week that a vote to approve the change in the tax plan could signal to Embden residents that the other towns are willing to work with them to keep them in the district.

Colville stressed that the referendum and the withdrawal effort are not linked.

“What happens with withdrawal is completely independent of what happens with this vote,” Coville said. “They are totally separate processes.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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