May 23, 2018
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RSU 25 towns to vote on first school budget

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

BUCKSPORT, Maine — Voters from the four Regional School Unit 25 towns will gather on Tuesday to vote on a $14 million budget for the coming school year, the first for the newly formed school district.

The district budget meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Bucksport Performing Arts Center at the middle school.

According to Superintendent Jim Boothby, the total budget figure of $14,698,984 is slightly higher than the target budget figure the district board had set earlier this month. Boothby said the board added funds, including stimulus funds, to pay for laptop computers at the high school.

The voters from Bucksport, Orland, Prospect and Verona Island also will vote on an adult education budget for the coming year. The proposed budget is $262,260, an increase of $20,019.

That makes a total RSU budget of $14,961,244.

The budget represents a decrease of $1,881,346 from the combined budgets for the RSU members, Bucksport, Orland and SAD 18 (Prospect and Verona Island), for the current year. Most of that decrease reflects the tuition Orland and the SAD towns paid to Bucksport. Because they are all in the same RSU now, they no longer will pay tuition.

That figure also will turn up as a reduction in revenues, which Bucksport has received in the past.

Without the tuition figures, Boothby said, the proposed budget represents a 2.1 percent increase, most of that in contracted teacher salaries and benefits. The career and technical education line of the budget increased by more than $50,000, to $127,400. That increase reflects the fact that there are more students from the RSU towns who will be attending the Hancock County Technical Center in Ellsworth next year, Boothby said.

The amount to be raised through taxes varies among the four towns. Bucksport will see a decrease in its local appropriation, while the other three towns will see increases. The increase in Orland’s appropriation will be significant.

Those increases are the result of the towns having spent their entire balance forward leaving less to be applied to the proposed budget for the coming year.

Orland, he said, has $200,000 less in balance forward than it did last year.

“That means they started off $200,000 in the hole,” Boothby said. “Hindsight is 20-20, but if they had not spent all of the balance forward funds last year, the increase [in local appropriation] would not be as much for next year.”

The amount Orland will have to raise from taxes is $2,280,443.60, an increase of $366,235.60.

The SAD towns of Prospect and Verona Island are in a similar situation, although the increase in appropriation is not as high.

Prospect’s tax bill for the budget will be $394,265, an increase of $33,069. Verona Island will have to raise $422,812, an increase of $32,476.

Bucksport will have to raise $5,378,158, a decrease of $68,334.

All registered voters in the four towns will be eligible to vote at the RSU budget meeting on Tuesday. If approved, the budget will go to a validation vote in the individual towns. That vote is set for June 9.

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