Cumberland-North Yarmouth school board backs 3.5% budget increase

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CUMBERLAND — The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors on Monday unanimously approved a nearly $35 million budget for next year – a 3.5 percent hike over current spending.

The spending plan now goes to two votes by residents of the Cumberland-North Yarmouth district.

The budget total, minus anticipated revenues, would produce a proposed tax assessment on the Cumberland-North Yarmouth district of $22.5 million, up nearly $620,000 from the current fiscal year. The tax hike as originally presented in March was nearly $900,000.

Cumberland’s tax rate is projected to rise by 1.1 percent, adding 20 cents per $1,000 of valuation, or a $70 annual increase on a home valued at $350,000.

North Yarmouth’s rate would increase 1.1 percent, for an extra 19 cents on the tax rate, or $66.50 for a $350,000 home.

Revenues include $11.9 million in state subsidy and the use of $300,000 from the district’s fund balance. The biggest piece of the budget, regular instruction, is $15.6 million, a hike of about $374,000.

Brad Hilton of Cumberland told the School Board Monday that he was “97 percent pro your budget,” but said he disagreed with “that extra 3 percent” increase, and would consequently be voting against the spending plan.

“It’s just too much,” he added.

There was little other public comment on the budget, which School Board members praised prior to taking a vote.

“This budget is … very-well put together,” Karen Campbell said, adding that it had been “a pleasure” to serve on the Finance Committee, and that the spending plan reflects the strategic priorities established by the school district.

Two votes by the public now follow: at a district budget meeting in the Greely High gym at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, and a budget validation referendum Tuesday, June 14.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. 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.