12 Ellsworth-area towns to vote on 2 percent increase in RSU 24 budget

Posted May 07, 2012, at 1:14 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A loss of federal funds for transportation and an increase in energy costs are the main reasons the RSU 24 annual budget is expected to increase next year, according to an RSU official.

The RSU will hold a public vote on the proposed $36,181,000 budget for 2012-2013 at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, at Mountain View School in Sullivan. Registered voters in the RSU member towns of Eastbrook, Ellsworth, Franklin, Gouldsboro, Hancock, Lamoine, Mariaville, Sorrento, Steuben, Sullivan, Waltham and Winter Harbor are encouraged to attend.

Last May, approximately 100 people from the 12 towns attended the 2011 annual budget meeting and approved an operating budget of $35.4 million. Approximately 19,000 people are estimated to live in the RSU’s district.

David Bridgham, business manager for RSU 24, said last week that the school system is losing $682,000 in federal stimulus funds that had paid for bus drivers and that the RSU has to raise money to cover those costs. The RSU’s energy costs also are expected to increase, he said, including an estimated $205,000 hike just for heating oil.

Overall, the RSU budget would increase by about 2 percent, according to Bridgham. The RSU is facing additional reduced funding by having fewer tuition students from outside the RSU district, he added, and because it will have less balance forward to transfer from the current budget.

As result, the average increase for each member town is 3.8 percent, he said.

Bridgham said several parts of the RSU budget are decreasing this year, including special education, athletics, career development and training and district administration.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

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