May 27, 2018
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RSU 1 voters to decide on cost-sharing change

By Larry Grard, Times Record

BATH, Maine — Public hearings completed, residents of the five Regional School Unit 1 communities go to the polls Tuesday to weigh in on a new cost-sharing formula based on cost per student.

If approved, the new formula would bring slight tax decreases in Arrowsic and Bath and a significant decrease in Phippsburg. Woolwich residents would absorb an increase and West Bath taxpayers would take a significant hit.

The RSU 1 Cost-Sharing Committee said the new allocation is fairest, but there was disagreement as to when the new formula should go into effect — next fiscal year or 2014-15. The panel decided in January to opt for the upcoming year.

The cost-per-pupil model would replace a formula based on equal thirds: student population, state valuation of a community and the community’s population.

“It’s fair across the board,” said Sukey Heard, an Arrowsic selectwoman and committee member. “It was a fair process.”

RSU 1 might expect positive results Tuesday from Phippsburg. Town Administrator Mike Young said that the change would mean “at least” a $400,000 decrease in the town’s annual allotment.

In West Bath, however, Town Administrator Jonathan Young said taxpayers will pay between $400,000 and $500,000 more a year if the referendum passes.

“The committee felt this was equitable,” Young said, “but here we wanted it next year, not this year. We wanted another year of the LD 910 law. This increase amounts to our roads budget, and our operations budget, all in one.”

West Bath is in litigation against the RSU 1, with Arrowsic, Bath and Woolwich joining as defendants, as West Bath seeks to recover $1.9 million in losses it claims it incurred, from the RSU 1 cost-sharing plan discontinued last year.

Polling places

— Arrowsic: noon-8 p.m., town hall

— Bath: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., City Hall

— Phippsburg: 1:15-8 p.m., town hall

— West Bath: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., fire department

— Woolwich: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Woolwich Central School

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