There are incorrect statements often repeated as facts by town officials regarding the Chariho School budget. For the current 2014 fiscal year Hopkinton will pay $13,003,385, not $18 million as recently quoted in a letter to the Editor. Richmond will pay $12,962,056. Charlestown will pay $12,928,462. These numbers are available on the Chariho website and in each Town’s budget if a person wanted to be factual.
That translates to 33.43% of the total for Hopkinton; 33.33% for Richmond; and 33.24% for Charlestown. Sounds like a fairly equal split to me.
Why do some town officials often quote vastly different numbers?
It is because they ignore state aid to education that reduces the towns’ Chariho bill. These are state funds paid to each of the towns specifically for education. It is not “general revenue,” but often appears that way in each of the towns’ budgets. By law it must go to reduce each of the towns’ school bills.
There is also often repeated the idea that, because of its tax base, Charlestown can more easily afford to pay its school bill. This is “marginally” true, but only marginally. The 2010 U.S. Census indicates that the median monthly homeowner cost including mortgage, utilities, insurance and real estate taxes (including school taxes) varies from a high of $1,962 for Richmond to a low of $1,699 for Charlestown, with Hopkinton in the middle at $1,825.
The spread from highest to lowest is 13.4%. I suggest that this is not enough of a difference to justify the idea that Charlestown has the “luxury” of voting in favor of Chariho budgets.
I suspect that one of the reasons Hopkinton usually votes against the school budget, and Richmond sometimes does, is because the voters in these two towns have come to believe that what they pay is somehow grossly unfair. That sense of unfairness is fostered by town officials and others who misrepresent the facts.