SAD 53 budget hearing set next week

Posted June 10, 2009, at 8:13 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — The district-wide hearing for the SAD 53 2009-2010 $10.1 million budget will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, at the Warsaw Middle School gymnasium.

Superintendent Michael Gallagher said this week that the proposal is less than this current year’s budget by $145,458 or 1.41 percent.

“It results in no increase to taxes districtwide,” Gallagher said, but added that because of a shift in town valuations Pittsfield would need to raise an additional $25,981.

Burnham’s tax assessment for education would decrease by $14,361 and Detroit’s would be reduced by $11,620.

Gallagher said a historical view of taxes raised for education since a high of $4,099,602 in 2004-05 shows that there were significant decreases in 2005-06 (down 13.52 percent) and in 2007-08 (down 10.25 percent) with only a small increase (1.66 percent) in 2006-07.

“Last year, despite a shortfall in state funding of over $410,000, the budget resulted in only a 3.19 percent increase to taxes,” Gallagher said. “For next year’s budget, the board felt that because of the very difficult economy it was important to have no increase to taxes, even though state funding fell by another $274,330.”

A proposal in the midst of this year’s budget process to close both Burnham Village School and the district’s Central Office was abandoned when enough funds were found in the budget to support both buildings.

Gallagher said school budget approval is a two-step validation process.

First, at the district budget meeting, the school board proposes all 16 articles, and then residents discuss and vote on them.

Then on June 22, a referendum vote is held in each of the three communities. Residents again have the opportunity to vote yes that they agree with or no that they disagree with the results of the actions taken at the budget meeting.

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