Fair allocation of Hollis Brookline Co-op costs is the key

To the Editor:

The on-going debate on the Hollis Brookline Co-op apportionment issue is often focused on the wrong thing – tax impact of a given formula – rather then the real issue which is the allocation of the costs between the two parties.

It is important to separate the allocation of the costs (apportionment) from the payment of the costs (tax impact). The fact is that any dollar in cost whether it be from the co-op or the Police Department or the Department of Public Works will impact a Brookline taxpayer more than a Hollis taxpayer.

So for example, if there was a warrant article in each town for the exact same new fire engine for $100,000 – the impact in tax dollars per $1,000 of assessed-value will be higher in Brookline than in Hollis.

Some are arguing that is “not fair,” – why should a new fire engine impact the taxes such that taxes go up $2 in Brookline but only $1 in Hollis for that same expense? But the fact remains that because of the number of homes in Brookline versus Hollis and the town respective equalization values – the exact same expenditure at the town level costs a homeowner more in Brookline than in Hollis.

We don’t control that – that’s the tax system in New Hampshire. Is that “unfair”? Therefore, current discussion needs to focus on the allocation of the costs – how should we “fairly” allocate the cost of educating our children in the co-op? The allocation of cost based on the number of students sent by each town seems reasonable but others might have other ideas.

Let’s discuss and review options and reasonings around the allocation of cost rather than the tax impact. The tax impact for any given expense between our towns will always be “unfair”, whether it is students in the co-op or a new fire engine given the current make-up of the communities and the New Hampshire tax system. Therefore trying to find an appointment formula that has a “fair” tax impact does not even start on a level playing field – it’s not possible!

We should be able to come to agreement on a “fair” method for the allocation of costs of educating our students in the co-op, however.