According to Wiscasset Town Clerk Linda Perry, 20 registered voters attended the Wiscasset 2023-2024 school budget validation meeting Wednesday, May 17, with only one question submitted from the public.
Wiscasset Town Manager Dennis Simmons submitted the only public question during the meeting, asking the amount of the school’s undesignated fund balance. He was told all but $600,000 of the $2.2 million undesignated fund balance is being used this year to fund several reserve accounts, including $600,000 of it as revenue.
The 2023-2024 school validation budget was approved for $10,321,539, an increase of $966,938 and a 10.34% increase over last year’s budget of $9,354,571.
The amount to raise from local taxes in the proposed budget is $6,410,209, an 8.45% increase from last year’s budget of $5,910,708. Wiscasset Interim Superintendent Robert England estimates the impact to Wiscasset taxpayers will be less than $200 on a $300,000 home and less than $100 on a $150,000 home.
The cost centers approved at the validation meeting include: $3,630,495.13 for regular education, an increase of $390,041 or 12.04%; $2,363,540 for special education, up 5.42%, or $121,529; $246,892 for other expenses, up less than 1%, or $2,353,72; student and staff, $731,791, up more than 24%, or $143,321.65; system administration, $528,059.00, up 4.70%, or $23,727.72; school administration, $555,296.00, a $9,721 decrease, or 1.72%; transportation $669,522, up 27.42%, or $144,092; maintenance up $1,522,925, or 11.83%, an increase of $161,093.97 over last year. All other expenses, primarily food services, are down $10,000, or 14.29%, sliding to $60,000.
There are 22 warrant school articles on the special town meeting warrant, with articles two through 12 authorizing expenditures in the cost center categories.
Article 17 proposes a school capital reserve fund, authorizing the school committee to transfer up to $100,000 from the undesignated fund balance to pay for capital improvement projects, plant maintenance, facility upgrades, minor remodeling, emergency repairs, and capital equipment purchases.
Article 18 proposes funding the $1,185,630 construction of a handicapped elevator at the Wiscasset Elementary School, to be paid for in part by taking an additional $286,890 from the capital reserve fund and $346,371 in grant proceeds from the State of Maine School Revolving Renovation Fund.
Article 19 would authorize the school committee to use the special education reserve fund to pay for unanticipated special education costs during the school year.
Article 20 request authorization for the Wiscasset School Committee establishes a fuel reserve account to pay for unanticipated fuel cost exceeding amounts budgeted for fuel to offset heating and in transportation fuel costs that exceed the budgeted amount and to transfer up to $50,000 from available fund balances to the fuel reserve fund to offset the heating and transportation fuel cost that exceed budgeted amounts.
Article 21 authorizes the expenditure of grants and other receipts. Article 22 authorizes the use of unanticipated increases or decreases in state subsidy.
The entire 2023-2024 budget is available for viewing on the town’s website wiscassetschools.org by selecting District, School Committee and clicking on the 2023-2024 WSD Budget.
The 2023-2024 school budget will go before the voters again for final approval, Tuesday, June 13, in a referendum vote.