What is the potential impact of school construction projects on my taxes?

The scope of potential construction projects has not yet been defined—including the fundamental question of whether each school would be a renovation or a reconstruction; therefore, costs are unknown. However, we can estimate the impact to the average tax bill using various cost levels and other assumptions.

If voters approve a debt exclusion, new debt could be taken on by the town and loans would be paid over many years by an increase in property taxes over the life of the loan. At the same time, existing exempt debt (financing High Plain, Wood Hill and Bancroft school construction, for example) is being paid off, with a notable drop to come in the year 2022. Estimates show that the FY18 average tax bill was about $9,600 and that $270 of that amount was applied to existing exempt debt. 

Total exempt debt—existing plus that from any new projects approved by voters—will have a bearing on the town’s repayment schedule and, therefore, on residential taxes in any given year.  

The Town has put together preliminary debt scenarios based on various assumptions about construction project costs, interest rates and loan terms. These estimates show that for every 

$10,000,000 of debt incurred, we can expect an average tax bill impact of between $38.00 and $47.80 in the first year of loan repayment. The annual cost to taxpayers would gradually decrease after the first year as interest payments on the debt decrease and as existing debt for other town projects expires.

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1. What has the Andover High School Facility Study Committee been doing? Are there any significant findings from the Andover High School feasibility study?
2. What are the major deficiencies of the Andover High School facility? What current educational standards are not being met?
3. Why is the temperature within Andover High often uncomfortable in winter and summer? What are the major contributing factors?
4. What future enrollment projections is the School Committee using or planning to use to ensure the High School project meets projected future needs?
5. Didn’t Andover recently renovate the high school?
6. Can the state help with Andover’s school facility needs? Has Andover sought this assistance?
7. Why did the district decide to ask for MSBA help for Andover High in April 2018?
8. What are the primary options being considered for Andover High construction?
9. What are the factors to consider in the decision between an addition plus renovation versus new construction?
10. Is “do nothing” an option being considered for Andover High?
11. How can a renovated or new facility provide a better and more current instructional program for students?
12. Why will the MSBA decision in December be a critical milestone for the Andover High project?
13. When will improvements to Andover High begin? When will improvements be complete?
14. Which other Massachusetts communities have undertaken major projects to improve their high schools?
15. Why are multiple schools being considered for renovation or reconstruction at the same time?
16. Why did the district ask the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for help with West Elementary, rather than Andover High, in April 2017?
17. What are the pros and cons of participating in the MSBA program and of building without MSBA partnership?
18. What paths are being taken to address both AHS and West Elementary?
19. When will improvements to West Elementary begin? When will improvements be complete?
20. How are Andover buildings being maintained?
21. Will Andover High continue to be maintained while we are going through this process?
22. How does the town pay for facility construction projects?
23. What is Andover’s track record for past school construction being on or under budget?
24. What is the potential impact of school construction projects on my taxes?
25. I have no children who attend Andover Public Schools. How will this project benefit me and the community?
26. Are any other high-priority school facilities being considered for improvement?
27. What public input has occurred to date? How can the public be engaged in this process?
28. Who will make the decision about which building project(s) to pursue?
29. How accurate are the cost estimates?