May 25, 2018
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Camden-area schools look to minimize budget hikes

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

CAMDEN, Maine — The Camden-area school districts are trying to adjust their proposed budgets to reduce a projected 7 percent hike to taxpayers.

The administration unveiled earlier this month its first draft budget to the finance committees of both the Five-Town Community School District — which oversees Camden Hills Regional High School — and School Administrative District 28, which operates kindergarten through eighth grade for Camden and Rockport

The proposed SAD 28 budget for 2013-2014 is $12.6 million, a $386,000, or 3.2 percent, increase from the approved 2012-2013 budget.

The amount that taxpayers would have to pay, however, is tentatively proposed to increase by $824,000, a jump of 7.5 percent. Part of that is because the district estimates it will have less carryover surplus to cushion the increase to property taxes.

In addition, the district is expecting less revenue and is setting aside $146,000 for teacher retirement contributions that had previously been paid by the state. Gov. Paul LePage has proposed that local schools pick up the state’s share of teacher retirement contributions.

The proposed Five-Town Community School District 2013-2014 budget — which oversees Camden Hills Regional High School that serves Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville — is $11.5 million. This represents a $344,000, or 3 percent, increase.

The amount needed from property taxes, however, is projected to increase by $600,000, nearly 6.5 percent. Part of that increase is caused by reduced revenues and having to add $122,000 for teacher retirement.

Superintendent Elaine Nutter said Tuesday that the finance committees have asked the administration to return next week with budgets that would limit the property tax hike to 2 percent for the CSD and 3.5 percent for SAD 28.

Nutter said she does not know if the request will result in reductions in staff positions. She said, however, that it would mean either flat funding or a slight decrease in the overall spending for the districts.

“We will be looking at everything from A to Z,” Nutter said.

Meetings for members of the public to offer their input on the budgets are scheduled for Wednesday, March 13, at the high school. The SAD 28 session would begin at 6 p.m. and the CSD at 7:30 p.m.

The districtwide budget meeting, in which voters get to act on the budget, is scheduled for Tuesday, May 28, at the Strom Auditorium at Camden Hills. The SAD 28 hearing will be at 6 p.m. and the CSD hearing at 7 p.m.

The referendums for the school budgets will be voted on in the individual towns on Tuesday, June 11.

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