Bath, Topsham, Harpswell voters to tackle school budgets

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BATH — Voters in Regional School Unit 1 and School Administrative District 75 will cast ballots on their respective budgets on Tuesday, June 9.

RSU 1 – which includes Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich – has proposed a $27.3 million spending plan, which voters approved May 26 at a district budget meeting.

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 June, is the decline’s major contributor.

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 hike of 4.9 percent.

Of that increase, 3.1 percent would be 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.

Bath’s piece of the tax bill could be $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.

Voters in SAD 75, meanwhile, will decide on a $36.9 million budget, about $700,000 more than the current spending plan, as approved in a May 21 district budget meeting. The local share will increase about $568,000, or 2.65 percent.

The spending plan could mean a $63 annual school tax increase on a typical $182,500 home in Topsham. Harpswell could see a $21 increase on a $425,000 home, while Bowdoin and Bowdoinham could experience hikes of $67 and $56, respectively, on a $178,000 home.

Budget additions of $1.3 million include $144,000 for four special educational technicians, $139,000 for food service, and $200,000 in architect fees as SAD 75 studies whether to renovate or replace Mt. Ararat High School.

Should a high school project referendum pass, the architect’s fees would be reimbursed by the state.

Polling places and times in RSU 1 are at Arrowsic Town Hall, noon-8 p.m.; Bath Middle School, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Phippsburg Town Hall, 1:15 p.m.-7 p.m.; and Woolwich Central School, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Voting in SAD 75 will occur from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at Bowdoin Central School, Bowdoinham Town Hall, the Topsham Fair Grounds Exhibition Hall, and, in Harpswell, at the Merriconeag Grange Hall, Cundy’s Harbor Community Building and Old Orr’s Island School House.

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.