Regional School Unit 40 ended up with more state subsidy this year than expected and, if voters approve, it could mean lower local costs for the district’s five towns.
According to Superintendent Steve Nolan, the district relied on preliminary subsidy figures based on the state budget proposed by Gov. Paul LePage.
“When the budget process played out at the state level … additional funds were allocated for education” and there were also factors changing the distribution of those funds, Nolan said.
Voters approved a $24,032,456.62 K-12 education budget at referendum June 9.
Originally, revenues for RSU 40 in the 2015-2016 school year were based upon a state subsidy figure of $8,712,149.96, a decrease of $188,112.53 or 2.11 percent.
With the change in subsidy, the district is now slated to receive an additional $292,375.01, a net increase of $104,262.48 or 1.17 percent over last year.
At the district board’s meeting July 16, three options were presented to the board members, Nolan said: take no action and allow the funds to flow into the fund balance; hold a district budget meeting to ask for authority to spend the extra funds and decide where the funds should go; or hold a district budget meeting to authorize using the funds to reduce the towns’ local contributions.
The board unanimously voted to pursue reducing the local contributions, Nolan said.
Like the normal budget process but more narrow in scope, the board will need to hold a district budget meeting to set the figures and a subsequent referendum vote for final approval.
Nolan said the district is trying to figure out how to accomplish those tasks as quickly as possible, and a special board meeting may be called in order to hold the district meeting in mid-August.
“As soon as we finalize those things, we’ll get it out to everyone,” he said.
If voters do approve using all the extra funds to reduce the local contributions, it would soften the percentage increases for each of the towns’ assessments by about 2.2 percent. The current assessments are increases of between 5.82 and 8.24 percent over last year, depending on the town.
Based on district documentation, the assessments for K-12 and adult education would be (with changes versus last school year, not the current assessment for this year): Waldoboro, $4,832,997.32, up $272,352.74 or 5.97 percent; Washington, $1,375,387.61, up $79,861.12 or 6.16 percent; Union, $2,033,003.40, up $71,131.66 or 3.63 percent; Warren, $3,629,874.93, up $126.222.48 or 3.6 percent; and Friendship, $1,800,582.01, up $78,969.96 or 4.59 percent.