HOLDEN, Maine — The SAD 63 draft budget is increasing by only 2.48 percent, but the amount taxpayers will pay is increasing by nearly 7.5 percent, with a large part of the increase falling on the shoulders of residents in Eddington and Clifton, Business Manager Yvonne Mitchell said Tuesday.
The preliminary school budget for fiscal year 2009-10 is $9,478,014, an increase of $229,053 over this year’s budget. The breakdown of the figures will be presented to residents at a public hearing at 7 tonight at Holbrook Middle School.
“Clifton and Eddington went up as far as their percentage of the total, and Holden went down,” Mitchell said of the three-community school district.
For the last couple of years Holden has seen increases, but “this time it’s disproportionately skewed toward Eddington,” which will pay $145,000 more than last year, she said.
The amount each community will pay is set by the state based on property values. Based on the draft budget, residents in the three towns will pay $269,154, or 7.48 percent, more.
Eddington will pay 30.67 percent, an increase of 1.6 percent over last year; Clifton will pay 14.17 percent, up 0.36 percent; and Holden will pay less at 55.16 percent, a decrease of 1.96 percent.
Eddington residents will see the biggest increase with the school board asking for $1,285,614, an increase of $145,293 or 12.74 percent more for education; Clifton will hand over $594,002, an increase of $52,451 or 9.69 percent; and Holden will pay $2,312,097, a $71,413 increase or just over 3 percent more.
Little has changed within the budget, except a third-grade teacher was added to address increased enrollment, and teachers were given a step increase, Mitchell said, adding the goal was not to eliminate any positions.
“We pretty much tried to hold the line on pretty much everything else,” she said.
The state also is handing over less, Mitchell said. The Essential Programs and Services funding for 2009-10 is $4,803,034, or $208,371 less than last year. That includes $40,102 less in subsidy and $168,269 in federal stimulus funds that was removed from the amount, she explained.
“They’re using the stimulus money to fill in the gaps for the state budget,” Mitchell said. “It’s not going to reduce taxes in communities, or anything like that.”
No additional funds have been added to the budget to cover legal fees associated with the lawsuits brought against the district and several board members by former superintendent Louise Regan, Ray Hart, interim superintendent, said Tuesday.
He said that “sooner or later this lawsuit is going to be over” and is proposing residents allow the district to wait until they are done to deal with their outcome.
“I do see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Hart said. “I’m cautiously optimistic.”
The annual budget hearing is 7 p.m. June 4, at Holbrook Middle School and the budget validation referendum is June 9 to coincide with state primaries.
The budget must be passed by residents at both the budget hearing and the referendum to be validated.