Bath-area voters OK $27M school budget, 5% tax hike

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BATH — Regional School Unit 1 voters on Tuesday approved next year’s $27.3 million budget, 326-92, according to unofficial results.

The spending plan passed 135-61 in Bath, 36-4 in Arrowsic, 62-8 in Phippsburg, and 93-19 in Woolwich.

“We are very pleased with the budget vote,” Superintendent Patrick Manuel said in an email Tuesday night. “We would like to thank those community members who attended the District Budget meeting and came out to vote today.”

In the May 26 budget meeting, voters added two items to the spending plan: an extra half-day of band instruction in Phippsburg, at a cost of $7,100, and an additional day of art in Woolwich, for more than $8,200.

The fiscal 2016 budget is down 3.6 percent from current spending. The exit of West Bath, which voted overwhelmingly last December to leave the school district at the end of this month, is the major contributor to the decline.

The RSU’s total local contribution for this fiscal year was $18.8 million. The tax contribution without West Bath would have been $16.1 million. Total local taxes for next year could be $16.8 million, or an apples-to-apples increase of 4.9 percent.

Of that increase, 3.1 percent is due to additional expenses, while 1.7 percent, or about $273,000, is the net impact of West Bath’s withdrawal: loss of both revenue and expenses from the town, and additional state and tuition revenue to the district, Clark has said.

Bath’s piece of the tax bill is $9.6 million, a hike of 4.8 percent; Arrowsic, about $452,000, up 4 percent; Phippsburg, nearly $3 million, up 6.6 percent; and Woolwich, $3.8 million, up 3.8 percent.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.