June 21, 2018
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Madawaska school budget special town meeting set for Jan. 7

By Julia Bayly, BDN Staff

MADAWASKA, Maine — After months of negotiations, meetings and numbers-crunching, the Madawaska school budget is going to voters at a Jan. 7 special town meeting.

Nearly halfway through it’s 2012-2013 fiscal year, the Madawaska School Committee approved a $6.7 million budget during an emergency meeting Dec. 20, representing a $513,000 decrease from last year to include a reduction in local tax effort of $251,601.

“We as a school committee put an awful lot of effort and work into the budget,” Committee Chairman Yves Dube said Friday morning. “We know a lot of people have been affected in ways we did not like doing but had to do.”

The special town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Madawaska High School cafeteria.

In November, residents turned down the proposed school budget, demanding the committee come back with a revised budget reduced by $525,000.

“We have done the will and wishes of the people,” Dube said. “We have done the job we were asked to do.”

On the way to making the necessary cuts, committee members eliminated 10 teaching positions in addition to instituting furlough days, reducing staff hours and reducing salaries.

Under their contractual agreement, those teachers would have been done in March.

However, an unexpected $199,000 in state contributions based on late revisions to the Maine Department of Education’s allocations to fund public schools will fund those positions through the end of the current school year.

Madawaska is facing heavy tax revenue losses stemming from property tax abatements granted to Twin Rivers Paper Co., reducing its valuation from $170 million to $85 million during a four-year period beginning in fiscal year 2010.

The Jan. 7 warrant includes requests for funds to cover the municipal and school share of the 2011-2012 Twin Rivers tax abatement.

The town is looking to use $205,835 from its undesignated fund balance to pay its share of the abatement while the school department would use $205,835 from its own undesignated fund balance in addition to requesting voters approve paying the town an additional $150,000 for the school’s share of the 2012-2013 Twin Rivers tax valuation reduction.

Local taxpayer share of the proposed school budget is $2.8 million and the committee is requesting an additional local contribution of $218,636 to fund operating expenses including substitute teachers, equipment, athletics and co-curricular activities.

“We feel about this proposed budget and believe it is the best one we can put forth at this time,” Dube said. “We did the job the people asked us to do and we hope the people will now pass this budget and we can move on to next year.”

Planning for the FY 2013-2014 municipal and school budgets begins next month.

“We know we have a lot of work to do and we are keeping our sleeves rolled up,” Dube said.

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