STACYVILLE, Maine — A proposed $9.2 million budget for RSU 50 in southern Aroostook County sailed through a budget hearing in Dyer Brook last week, and the fiscal forecast has moved intact toward a referendum vote Thursday.
The new RSU is made up of the former SAD 25 and CSD 9. Its communities include Dyer Brook, Crystal, Hersey, Island Falls, Merrill, Moro, Mt. Chase, Oakfield, Patten, Sherman, Smyrna and Stacyville.
John A. Doe, interim superintendent for the RSU, said Monday that approximately 52 residents attended last week’s budget hearing.
“The hearing went very well, I think,” he said. “It is difficult to compare this year’s budget to previous years, as this is the first year that the districts have consolidated into one unit.”
He said that the unit saved more than $146,000 by consolidating and avoiding penalties.
Doe explained that spending for the RSU is up slightly, $32,070 over last year. At the same time, the district saw a decrease in state funding. For the 2011-2012 school year, RSU 50 will receive $4.7 million from the state, which is down close to $110,000 from last year. A $161,928 reduction in stabilization funds also factored into the budget.
Another obstacle was the $450,000 loss in income and revenue from last year.
As was the case in SAD 29 in Houlton, the RSU had to raise more money as its local share for education in order to receive full state aid. The required local share is $2.3 million, which is up 2.5 percent over last year.
The school board approved the use of $400,000 in surplus funds to offset taxation. Despite that move, and the cutting of several education technician positions, the majority of the communities will see a tax increase.
Taxpayers in Crystal will be asked to put forward $175,217, an increase of more than $8,000 over last year. The local share for Dyer Brook is $185,804, up approximately $12,000 over last year. In Hersey, taxpayers will see a decrease, as the bill will be approximately $32,000, down $53,000 from last year. In Island Falls, taxpayers will shoulder an increase of $22,000, making their commitment $849,933. Merrill taxpayers also will see a slight increase of $6,169 over last year, bringing their bill to an estimated $157,000. The commitment for Moro will decrease by $10,362, to $23,713. Mt. Chase will see an increase of $56,680, making its share $351,107. The bill in Oakfield will be $504,969, up more than $44,000 over 2010-2011. The increase for Patten will be $104,410, making its commitment $487,265. In Sherman, an increase of more than $94,000 will bring the bill to more than $491,000. Smyrna will field a $16,000 increase, and its share will be $223,526. Stacyville’s local share is $286,380, up $59,000 over last year.
“There have been increases, but if the districts had all remained independent and not consolidated into the RSU, they would have seen a larger increase in the budget,” said Doe.
Each community is holding different voting hours on June 30. Doe suggested that residents call their respective town offices to garner information about times and locations. Those with questions about the budget may call Doe at 365-4272.