Flat insurance costs help SAD 75 shave budget proposal

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TOPSHAM — Thanks to health insurance expenses for next year coming in at less than anticipated, School Administrative District 75 has shaved about $93,000 from its proposed fiscal 2017 budget.

Having budgeted for a possible 3 percent insurance increase, the district learned in the past week that there will be no increase at all, allowing it to pare the spending plan that will go to the SAD 75 Board of Directors for a vote Thursday, May 12.

Next year’s budget could cause the overall tax rate for the four member towns to increase 2.22 percent, or about $489,000. A March 15 draft of the budget, before the insurance adjustment, called for a 2.68 percent increase.

The spending plan could increase from $36.9 million this year, to $37.6 million next year, including adult education. Offsetting revenues, totalling $15.1 million, primarily include a $14.6 million contribution from the state.

With those revenues subtracted from the total budget, $22.5 million could come through taxes from SAD 75’s four towns. Topsham’s share is projected to be $9.2 million, up 3.41 percent; Harpswell could pay $7.7 million, an 0.84 percent increase; Bowdoin, $2.7 million, up 2.24 percent; and Bowdoinham, $2.8 million, up 2.22 percent.

Almost $210,000 in proposed increases in the budget include $150,000 for architectural work in planning a new Mt. Ararat High School; $51,000 for a new teacher at the Williams-Cone elementary school due to a reduction in class sizes, and $63,000 for a teacher of the deaf who would also be an interpreter.

Also built into the spending plan is a 3 percent increase in salaries.

The spending plan also calls for about $167,000 in reductions, such as eliminating a teaching position at the Woodside and Bowdoinham Community schools due to declining enrollment. Because of anticipated retirements, Superintendent Brad Smith does not expect anyone to be laid off, he said in an interview March 16.

The district also anticipates savings from the retirement of five full-time employees, as well as one half-time staff member, since longtime employees at a higher pay grade would be replaced by newer staff.

Log onto link75.org for more budget information.

Following the School Board’s May 12 vote, the spending plan will go before voters at a district budget meeting at the Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham on Thursday, May 26, and in a budget validation referendum in the four towns 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.
  • jon Kibler

    Ok Alex. So why is Topsham’s contribution to SAD75 going up more than the other towns? Is our student population growing or something? Just curious.

    • Steven Dyer

      The 2 factors that drive costs for the 4 towns in the District are student population and state valuation. Both of these factors have been on a downward swing for years now. Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and Harpswell’s valuation and student count is receeding at a faster rate than that of Topsham’s thereby shifting a larger percentage of the cost to Topsham.

      Steve Dyer, Business Manager, MSAD No. 75