Welcome to Redding Info!

If this is your first visit, then welcome! My name is Todd Trimble.  I am a member of the Redding Civic League and a mathematician by training.  I started this site to share information that I think is useful and relevant for the Redding Budget Referendum Vote scheduled for June 26, 2018. Many people have since contributed in ways large and small, but any inaccuracies that have crept in should be assigned to me. These pages may be accordingly updated.

To help you navigate the resources available here, here are three introductory posts to help get you started:

  • For those who expect to be out of town on June 26: Absentee Ballot Information
  • Here are some quick answers to some frequently asked general questions.
  • Here is an overview of what has changed between the second and third referenda.

Within these posts you will find numerous links that take you either to other posts or to documents with relevant information. Some of those posts of a more specialized nature are housed at a second site, redding2.fyi, but right now you are at the primary site. You should be able to find your way back home just by hitting the back arrow (you probably knew that).

Please enjoy!

Facts concerning the June 26 Referendum

(Note: this page is still under construction.)

This page provides an overview of helpful information needed to make an informed decision for voting on the Redding Town Budget Referendum on June 26, at the Redding Community Center. Please click here for Absentee Ballot information, and the statement that will appear on the ballot.

This is the third referendum vote for 2018-2019.

There are three main sections on this page. The Overview provides data concerning total proposed expenditures and total taxes to be raised. The section “Budgets on a town-board basis” gives a breakdown of the total numbers according to town boards that submitted requests. The section “Cuts to schools” describes both the consequences of budget cuts after the second referendum failed, and the overall timeline of cuts since last year.

Overview

Here are some bulleted bare-bone numbers:

  • The current total town budget proposal represents an increase of +2.03% over that of 2017-2018.

From $48,233,326 (2017-2018) to $49,226,160 (2018-2019), i.e., a $992,834 increase. Notable drivers of this increase include rising costs of Special Ed, medical insurance, transportation, and physical plant operations.

The proposed Redding K-8 budget is the first requested increase in since 2013-2014 and is lower than the 2011-12 approved budget.

If we consider just the portion of the Redding town budget which has not yet passed, which is the sum of the Board of Selectmen’s budget and the BOE budget, that’s going from $35,506,138 in 2017-2018, to $35,828,440 proposed for June 26.  That’s an increase of 0.9%.  Whereas Redding’s budget for the high school, already passed, went up 5.3%.

In other words, most of the proposed increase is due to the part of the budget which has already passed. (Total increase for BOS and BOE is $322,302; total increase for the high school is $670,532.)

Here incidentally is a timeline indicating the proportion of the Redding budget for each of the three boards (Board of Selectmen, Redding BOE, ER9 Board) since 1991:

image002

  • The budget increase has been cut by another 13% relative to the budget increase proposed on June 6.

Down from the June 5 increase of $1,134,778, to the current proposed increase of $992,834. Already the June 5 increase represented a cut of about 31% relative to the May 8 increase.

This total budget cut necessitates further cuts to staff and services in the town and schools, as we explain below.

  • Including the June 26 proposed spending increase and the corresponding +2.34% tax increase, town property taxes have gone up an average of 1% over the past five years, well below the rate of inflation.

Taxes raised in 2013-2014 were $46,242,093. If the June 26 referendum passes, the amount of taxes the town must raise from property owners comes to $48,688,556. The difference is $2,446,463. This divided by the 2013-2014 amount is 5.29%. Averaged linearly over 5 years, that’s about 1.06% per year, as a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation.

A more careful computation (based on a geometric mean, akin to interest formulas) actually gives a slightly smaller number: 1.036% per year. However you compute it, the rise (5.29% over 5 years) is less than the rise due to inflation (about 7.6% over 5 years), according to http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/.

Note: The reason that the 2.34% rise in taxes is greater than the 2.06% rise in budget is not because an extra .28% was somehow “added on”.  It has to do with the difference between budgets and taxes-to-be-raised, called the offset, which varies from year to year. For an explanation of these terms, please read the FAQ.

Regarding financials separate from budget requests:

  • The town “rainy day” fund (aka the unassigned fund balance) has been rebuilt to be at or near the recommended level of $8.3 million.
  • The senior tax credit is fully funded and is not affected by this referendum.

In fact the senior tax credit has been boosted from $1,841,640 (2017-2018) to $1,892,998 (2018-2019). Let us repeat, in case there is any confusion on this point: the senior tax credit is mandated by statute. The referenda (whatever their outcomes) do not affect it.

Budgets on a town-board basis

A more fine-grained analysis takes into account some further points, where the town boards that submit budget requests are considered individually.

The Redding K-8 budget

  • The proposed Redding K-8 budget is the first requested increase in 5 years, and is lower than the 2011-2012 approved budget.

The approved budget for K-8 in 2011 was $21,353,543. The current proposed budget is $21,129,679. That is without taking inflation into account. Taking inflation into account, the current budget would be considered even less in relative terms (i.e., if we take into account the greater purchasing power of a dollar back in 2011).

  • The K-8 increase of 1.8% over last year’s budget (which was $20,752,623) is largely driven by rising costs of special education and health insurance. Regular education spending is down.
  • In the past 7 years, total general education spending in K-8 has gone down by $1.9 million, while total special education spending has gone up by $1.3 million.

Schools are mandated by law to provide adequate services for special education, which have risen significantly in recent years, as have medical costs and transportation costs. Other costs not tied to student numbers, such as for heating and building maintenance, have also risen.

Some analysis and documents consonant with these findings may be accessed here.

A rational parsing of budget costs necessarily separates out fixed costs and overhead from those costs that are directly correlated to student numbers. Even after separating out those fixed costs, there is necessarily a dramatic difference in cost between special education and general education. When all this is taken into account, regular/general education costs are decidedly down.

  • The proposed June 26 referendum budget increase for Redding K-8 has been cut by more than 50% relative to the first budget increase requested on May 8.

From a $800,000 increase requested as of May 8, to a $479,000 increase requested as of June 5, now down to $377,056 as of June 26. Again, what the cuts specifically entail will be explored below.

The Region 9 budget

The Region 9 budget was already passed on June 5, and Redding’s share of that budget is therefore fixed, i.e., is independent of whatever happens on June 26.  The Redding share is up by 5.3% relative to last year (as discussed further here).

The Selectmen’s budget

  • The Selectmen’s proposed budget is down by .37% relative to last year’s budget.

From $14,753,515 last year, the current June 26 proposal of $14,698,761 is down from last year by $54,754.

Cuts to schools

Here is how the budget reductions, from the June 5 proposal to the June 26 proposal, translate into cuts in service and materials at the K-8 schools.

  • A reduction in advisor stipends at JRMS results in the elimination of the Select Chorus.
  • Cuts to JRMS Author Visits and JRMS Library.
  • Various cuts related to curriculum development and professional development, and a reduction to one Grade 5 team leader.
  • Reductions in supplies to RES, including music supplies, kindergarten supplies, replacement radios.
  • Reductions in legal representation for both schools.

Here is a summary of all cuts since the beginning of this year’s budget proposals: 2018-19 Board of Education Staff & Program Cuts

On the addition side, the BOE budget includes two new part time positions: a .5 Special Services Supervisor and a .3 Specialist at Central Office.

Sources: completely detailed compendia of BOE budget functions after each updating of the budget proposal may be accessed at this page: Redding BOE 2018-2019 Budget Proposals. For example, the budget details between the April 3 BOF meeting and the May 8 referendum is here (with date in the upper right corner of each page). A more reader-friendly description of cuts imposed after each of the first two referenda were rejected is given in a report from Dr. McMorran to the Redding Community, Redding.School1819Budget.Facts (last five pages).

Frequently Asked Questions

(Please note: This page is under construction!)

This page gives some quick answers to questions that people may have regarding the upcoming referendum, scheduled for June 26. More in-depth information can be obtained by clicking on the links indicated.

  • What is the budget increase over last year?

Under the latest budget proposal, the increase will be 2.06%. This is based on last year’s total town budget of $48,233,326 versus the current proposed $49,226,160. For a discussion of the breakdown of numbers, click here.

  • What is the tax increase over last year?

According to the Board of Finance, the tax increase will be 2.34%. This is based on last year’s total taxes of $47,577,482 versus the current projected amount of $48,688,556.

  • The tax rate increase is 2.34%, the mill rate increase is 7.1%.  Why the difference?

This year the average property was valued at 4.8% less than last year, and the mill rate reflects the difference between the new valuation and the tax increase.  But to be clear, the overall tax increase is 2.34%, not 7.1% or any other number.

  • If the tax rate increase is 2.34%, why will some people pay more or less than that?

During the revaluation of property that takes place once every five years, some people’s homes were valued at more or less than the average.  Those homes valued at more than the average will see a tax increase of more than 2.34%.  Those homes valued at less than the average will see a tax increase of less than 2.34%.

  • What is happening with the Senior Tax Credit?

The Senior Tax Credit is fully funded and not affected by this referendum.

  • How or why is the tax increase different from the budget increase?

Really it boils down to answering another question: what is the difference between the town budget and the town taxes? Note well that total taxes for property owners are historically less than budget amounts!

The budget or expenditure number (see the first bullet point) is just a starting point on the way to the bottom line of town property taxes. Along the way various other revenues and deficits are figured in, like State aid and the senior tax credit. The net difference between the budget amount (the top line) and the tax amount (the bottom line) is sometimes called the offset.

Click here to see a table that shows year-to-year comparisons of budgets, taxes, and offsets, from 2010-2011 to the present day. (The list of offsetting figures appears between Expenditure Total and To Be Raised By Taxes.) Missing from that table are data from the years 2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017, but these can be accessed here.

  • What is the mill rate?

The mill rate under the current proposed budget is projected to be 31.7.

For an explanation of how the mill rate is defined and how it’s calculated, click here.

For a table of 2017-2018 mill rates and median tax bills of different towns in our DRG, click here.

  • How have the schools been affected by the latest budget reductions?

This question applies only to the Redding K-8 budget, since the Easton-Redding high school budget was approved on June 5. A summary may be found here (look under Cuts to schools).

A summary of budget cuts implemented after the May 8 referendum was given here (look under Impacts to staff and services). For a comprehensive summary of all school budget cuts and their consequences for 2018-2019 after the first referendum was rejected, click here (see the last five pages).

 

Referendum Information: June 5, 2018

This page provides an overview of helpful information needed to make an informed decision for voting on the Redding Town Budget Referendum on June 5, at the Redding Community Center.

This is the second referendum vote for 2018-2019. The discussion surrounding the first spending proposal (voted on on May 8) had been contaminated by a welter of confusing and contradictory claims; hence the urgent need for straight facts.

There are three main sections on this page. The Overview provides data concerning total proposed expenditures and total taxes to be raised. The section following that gives a breakdown of the total numbers according to town boards that submitted requests. The final section describes the impacts on staff and services that follow from the updated budget requests, after the first referendum failed.

Overview

Here are some bulleted bare-bone numbers to anchor the discussion:

  • The current total town budget proposal represents an increase of +2.35% over that of 2017-2018.

From $48,233,326 (2017-2018) to $49,368,104 (2018-2019), i.e., a $1,134,778 increase. Some of the primary drivers of this increase will be explained below.

The requested increase in the BOE budget would be the first increase since 2013-2014.

  • The budget increase has been cut by close to one-third (-31%) relative to the budget increase proposed on May 8.

Down from the May 8 increase of $1,647,129, to the current proposed increase of $1,134,778. This total budget cut necessitates certain cuts to staff and services in the town and schools, as will be explained below.

  • Including the June 5 proposed spending increase and the corresponding +2.6% tax increase, town property taxes have gone up an average of 1% over the past five years, well below the rate of inflation.

Please note that tax increase is different from budget/spending increase. Taxes to be raised by the town are what the town needs to cover the budget, after taking into account other offsetting items such as the senior tax credit and state assistance. The offset between the budget increase and tax increase is not under the control of the boards (school boards, Selectmen): they simply submit budget requests and have nothing to do with the other items.

Taxes raised in 2013-2014 were $46,242,093. The June 5 referendum is to vote on whether the town approves of taxes amounting to $48,830,500. The difference is $2,588,407. This divided by the 2013-2014 amount is 5.5975%. Averaged linearly over 5 years, that’s about 1.1% per year, as a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation.

A more careful computation (based on a geometric mean, akin to interest formulas) actually gives a slightly smaller number: 1.09% per year. However you compute it, the rise (about 5.6% over 5 years) is less than the rise due to inflation (about 7.6% over 5 years), according to http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/.

(A final note on the numbers: typically the town taxpayer burden is less than the town budget, because the offset between the two, consisting of various revenues and deficits that enter the accounting, tends to work in the taxpayers’ favor. The reason that the 2.6% rise in taxes is greater than the 2.35% rise in budget is because the offset this year is less than the offset last year, e.g., the state aid we got in Redding was less generous this year. It’s not because an extra .25% was somehow “added on” by anyone.)

  • The town “rainy day” fund (aka the unassigned fund balance) has been rebuilt to be at or near the recommended level of $8.3 million.
  • The senior tax credit is fully funded and is not affected by this referendum.

In fact the senior tax credit has been boosted from $1,841,640 (2017-2018) to $1,892,998 (2018-2019). Let us repeat, in case there is any confusion on this point: the senior tax credit is mandated by statute, and the referenda (whatever their outcomes) do not affect it: it is baked in, so to speak.

Budgets on a town-board basis

A more fine-grained analysis takes into account some further points, where the town boards that submit budget requests are considered individually.

The Redding K-8 budget

  • The proposed Redding K-8 budget is the first requested increase in 5 years, and is lower than the 2011-2012 approved budget.

The approved budget for K-8 in 2011 was $21,353,543. The current proposed budget is $21,231,623. That is without taking inflation into account. Taking inflation into account, the current budget would be considered even less in relative terms (i.e., if we take into account the greater purchasing power of a dollar back in 2011).

  • The K-8 increase of 2.3% over last year’s budget (which was $20,752,623) is largely driven by rising costs of special education and health insurance. Regular education spending is down.
  • In fact, in the past 7 years, total general education spending in K-8 has gone down by $1.9 million, while total special education spending has gone up by $1.3 million.

Schools are mandated by law to provide adequate services for special education, which have risen significantly in recent years, as have medical costs. Other costs not tied to student numbers, such as for heating and building maintenance, have also risen.

A rational parsing of budget costs necessarily separates out fixed costs and overhead from those costs that are directly correlated to student numbers. Even after separating out those fixed costs, there is necessarily a dramatic difference in cost between special education and general education. Taking such nuances into consideration, regular/general education costs are down.

  • The proposed June 5 referendum budget increase for Redding K-8 has been cut by more than 40% relative to the budget increase requested on May 8.

From a $800,000 increase requested as of May 8, to a $479,000 increase requested as of June 5. Again, what the cuts specifically entail will be explored below.

As a final concrete data point:

  • The K-8 budget increase averages to approximately 40 cents per Redding household per day.

This is a very estimated amount. There are approximately 3300 households in Redding. Dividing $479,000 by 3300 is about $145 per year per household, or about 40 cents per household per day. Another way to look at it: it’s about $12 per month per household.

The ER9 budget

Here one must take into account that this budget is shared with Easton. Each town’s share is proportional to the percentage of students from that town, so that the burden changes according to shifting differences between the two towns’ demographics.

  • The Redding share of the ER9 budget goes up by 5.3%; however, the (proposed) total budget is up by much less: up 1.9%.

The total budget last year was $23,789,137; the current total proposal is $24,240,492, up by $451,355. As for Redding’s share, that goes up from $12,727,188 to a proposed $13,397,720.

Of course the only number under the board’s control is the total. They are not responsible for the changing demographics that produced a dramatic jump in Redding’s share, which incidentally includes a greater share of fixed costs and overhead.

  • The proposed ER9 June 5 referendum increase (total) has been reduced by 35% relative to the increase requested on May 8.

From a $694,316 requested increase (May 8) to $451,355 (June 5).

The Selectmen’s budget

  • The Selectmen’s proposed budget is down by .1% relative to last year’s budget.

From $14,753,515 last year, it went slightly up in the May 8 proposal of $14,796,773, but the current June 5 proposal of $14,738,761 is slightly down from last year.

Impacts on staff and services

In this section we outline how the budget reductions, from the May 8 proposal to the June 5 proposal, translate into cuts in staff and services. The subsections treat each board’s purview separately.

For Redding K-8

Relative to the May 8 budget proposal, the June 5 proposal involves the following cuts in staffing levels:

  • At RES, eliminating one general education teacher, one reading paraprofessional, and eliminating a counselor at the .8 level. In total, this is a $148,052 cut.
  • The RES enrichment program will be eliminated. This is a cut of $54,052.
  • At JRMS, a math teacher and writing paraprofessional are being eliminated from JRMS, and a music teacher at the .4 level is being eliminated. In total, this is a $108,268 cut.
  • Increase in unemployment compensation since teachers and staff who have been reduced in force are entitled to unemployment benefits. (No exact figure available at this time.)

In addition, to meet financial goals, additional cuts were made to programs and supplies at both schools. These include

  • General reductions in advisor stipends for JRMS clubs and activities, e.g., after-school clubs, amounting to $30,000. The result is that many such clubs would no longer run.
  • Additional such cuts would eliminate the RES Garden Club and Kindness Club. Such cuts would also result in some savings of supplies.
  • A slew of miscellaneous cuts at both schools in, e.g., Chromebooks, cleaning and repairs, building electricity, office technology, library books, PowerSchool assessments, and more.

For Region 9 (Joel Barlow)

The current ER9 board proposal (relative to the May 8 proposal) includes the following reductions and allowances. Note that some of those allowances may be cut, and further reductions made, if the second referendum doesn’t pass.

  • There is a $365,801 decrease in general instruction. Specifically, this results in the reduction of: one science teacher, 0.2 social studies teacher, one student assistance counselor, one academic center paraprofessional, 0.82 English teacher, and the elimination of Latin 1.
  • There is a $183,890 net increase in special education.
  • The budget allows for a student resource officer.
  • The budget includes an increase of $217,456 in student transportation (the third and final year of a bus contract that was negotiated two years ago).
  • Allows for athletic and extracurricular activities similar to the 2017-2018 year, the difference being that Freshman baseball has now been cut due to low numbers, and Freshman girls and boys basketball has been added due to higher numbers.

For the town (Selectmen’s budget)

As noted earlier, there were no substantive changes in town services going from the May 8 proposed budget and the updated June 5 proposal. The small reduction in requested amount is largely due to the Selectmen finding some extra financial efficiencies in the meantime.

Of course, as with all the board requests, if the second referendum fails and we go to a third referendum, this may result in cuts with a more palpable impact, such as in grants going to organizations that apply for them.