The Board of Selectmen today announced the Seabrook Tax Rate for 2019. That rate is $15.75, a 50 cent decline from last years $16.25. This rate decrease is in fact a tax decrease for the taxpayers of Seabrook, as the total dollars raised through property taxation will decline from 2018, a truly remarkable figure. (Property tax collection will decline by $445,693.)
The property tax decrease is driven by a 43 cent decrease in the Town rate. This decline is largely attributable to the policy decision made by the Board of Selectmen on water and sewer rates. Management identified a $2 million dollar subsidy going from taxpayers to ratepayers, and Selectmen voted to end that subsidy, beginning in 2019. In setting this rate the Board recognized approximately $1.7 million in additional local revenue.
The Board of Selectmen have additionally held the rate of discretionary spending to 2% or less for several cycles. This has also had a positive impact on the relative tax burden in Seabrook. The overall percentage of the tax levy paid by NextEra continues to decline. In FY 2019, with this rate, NextEra will be approximately 29% of the total tax levy, down from 42% in 2014. The Board of Selectmen have had to manage this decline while continuing to maintain services and keep the tax rate stable. NextEra is currently under a three year tax agreement with Seabrook covering 2018, 2019, and 2020 that is worth $36 million over the term of the agreement.
The Board of Selectmen have made a policy decision to build fund balance, which has been a principal way the “NextEra Shift” has been managed. There will be another post examining the history of fund balance in Seabrook for the past six years.
Great job by Assessor Angie Silva, Finance Manager Carrie Fowler, Deputy Town Manager Kelly O’Connor, and the entire staff in doing the work needed to get this rate approved by the New Hampshire DRA.
I have attached the reports I provided to the Board covering the water and sewer subsidy for FY 2018.