Hard facts were missing from Ludlow meeting

12 years ago

To the editor:
    During a meeting of the town of Ludlow last week it was brought to the attention of the residents in attendance that there will be an upcoming vote on March 29 to investigate the possibility of Ludlow withdrawing from SAD 70 (Millpond/Hodgdon High School). Unfortunately, during the meeting there was no information given out to the attendees via hardcopy, and what little which was verbally given out was unfortunately, not completely factual. Having investigated further by making some phone calls and talking with the Ludlow Town Manager, Diane Hines, we’ll lay out the actual facts that should have been represented.
    Property Taxes: It was heard during the course of the meeting by several different people that the property taxes would go down by 1 to 2 mill points which the Town Manager stated could save the average resident with a tax assessed valued home of $100,000, approximately $1,000-$1,500.
    This unfortunately, is not accurate. Having spoken with the Town Manager the following morning, she only realized later that she had made a mistake and that the numbers given out were not accurate. The savings on a home valued at $100,000 is actually only $200 at a 2 mill point reduction. The current mill rate for Ludlow as I was informed by the Town Manager is .01625. With the supposed savings of $65,084.05 from withdrawing from SAD 70, this would drop the mill rate by 2 points which would then be .01425. As you can see, $200 at the higher mill point range, is still a far cry from the supposed $1,000-$1,500 that was mentioned in error.
    I have been assured by Diane that there will be some form of paperwork stating the error that people will be able to see and judge before they go ahead and vote. The only problem with that is how many people will take the time to read whatever is presented to them before they go vote if they are already in a hurry. Trying to get this information out in this format will hopefully be more beneficial and helpful for people to make an informed decision.
    Numbers presented by Mike Hammer, Superintendent for the SAD 29: After speaking with Mike Hammer on the phone it was established that the actual cost to the community would be $168,795 and not $151,915.95. This is what it would cost the town of Ludlow to send the 46 children that this withdrawal would affect. The cost to send them to Hodgdon would be $217,000 for 2012, a savings of $48,204.50. If we add to this whatever fees that it will cost to have this investigated by a lawyer and paperwork starts being filed, this could easily run into the thousands — further eating away at the savings.
    It is fairly evident that 2 mill points will not be dropped. Furthermore, the Ludlow Town Manager stated that she believed this would be the case; however, there is nothing tangible or concrete to show that the actual mill rate would go down by 2 points.
    This process can take upwards of two years to be completed once the investigation begins. People need to remember that during that time many things can happen. Mill rates can go up, go down. Costs that the community has to come up with to send their children to these respective schools can go up and down. Although, as always seems to be the case in life, the cost of things rarely go down more than they go up.
    If the Commissioner of Education does not approve of the withdrawal, then who is left with the cost of the lawyer’s fees? Does this come out of the town budget, again; no savings there.
    It was mentioned several times during the meeting that this investigation is not about the money. It’s about the kids. If it’s truly about the kids, then why is this vote for the investigation even being brought up at all. Who would want to uproot their children from a school that they’ve gone to all of their lives for possibly, a few dollars a month when broken down, if there’s any savings at all. I for one would be hard pressed to explain that to my child. Would you?
    What is the real issue? Is it transportation, education, the Tier 2 levels, or is it an issue with getting a Superintendent of your respective school to allow your child to go to a different school of your choosing?
Melissa Burube
and Brandy Peabody
Ludlow