Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School assessments up 3 percent

Janet Hefler

Assessments for the six towns that make up the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) District are up by 3.14 percent overall for fiscal year 2013 (FY13), based on numbers school business administrator Amy Tierney presented to the district’s school committee Monday night.

The assessments include amounts for the towns’ preliminary local minimum contributions recently sent by the state.

Under the state’s statutory assessment formula, Aquinnah will pay $176,253; Chilmark, $703,842; Edgartown, $3,490,161; Oak Bluffs, $3,753,775; Tisbury, $3,085,987; and West Tisbury, $2,559,004, for a total of $13,589,025.

In comparison to FY12 assessments, which totaled $13,175,262, West Tisbury will see the biggest increase at $255,110, followed by Chilmark, $185,766, and Edgartown, $138,600. Aquinnah, however, will pay $75,758 less, as will Oak Bluffs, $79,013, and Tisbury, $10,942.

Total statutory assessments are determined by a complex formula that takes a number of factors into account, including enrollment, local contributions from the towns, net school spending apportionments, transportation, other operating costs, capital costs, and debt service costs.

On December 5, 2011, the MVRHS school committee unanimously certified a $16,938,267 budget for FY13, which begins on July 1. The new budget is two percent higher than the FY12 budget of $16,603,131. The school committee also voted to use the state-mandated statutory assessment method.

For comparison purposes, Ms. Tierney also provided school committee members with a second set of figures for town assessments derived by using the high school district’s former regional agreement.

In 2006 the state legislature enacted a new formula, the aggregate wealth model, mandated to go into effect in FY07. It was first used by MVRHS in FY08.

Previously the Island’s six towns contributed to the cost of MVRHS on a per-pupil basis, according to the terms of a regional agreement in effect since 1954.

The state’s statutory assessment formula, however, also takes into account each regional school district member town’s aggregate wealth, based on its total equalized property value and its total income.

Ms. Tierney noted that when the statutory formula was first mandated, state education officials said the assessment amounts would be similarly apportioned to those in the Island’s existing regional agreement by the end of a five-year transition period, which was later extended to seven years. She pointed out that the differences in the percentages each town pays based on the statutory assessment method versus the former regional agreement are all less than one percent for FY13.