Freeport, Durham, Pownal may face 4% tax hike for schools

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • -1

FREEPORT — The School Department has proposed a $33 million fiscal year 2019 budget, up 2.3 percent from current spending. 

Regional School Unit 5 School Board members voted March 28 in support of Superintendent Becky Foley’s proposal.

The expected district-wide increase in taxes will be 4 percent. Under the spending plan, Freeport’s tax would increase 3 percent, or 45 cents per $1,000 of valuation. In Durham, the increase would be 0.9 percent, a 18-cent increase per $1,000. The impact would be the greatest in Pownal: 3.8 percent, or 66 cents.

Finance Director Michelle Lickteig stressed that the individual town tax rate increases are only estimates.

“I don’t know what each town’s 2019 mil rate will be until late September of 2018,” Lickteig said. “So, these amounts are using the 2018 mil rates for an estimated number.”

The estimated tax impact is based on the current tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value of $14.95 in Freeport, $18.85 in Durham and $17.25 in Pownal. 

Foley’s proposal pointed to three main drivers behind the budget growth: increased achievement in math, student support, and funding for building maintenance. 

Increased student support includes adding a part-time Response to Intervention teacher at Pownal Elementary School and Durham Community School for almost$55,800. Ed tech positions would be added to Freeport Middle School for $43,000 and to the district’s Choices program for $31,000. 

Another $83,500 would fund an additional fifth-grade teacher at Mast Landing School and $41,800 would add a part-time music teacher to Durham Community School. 

Additional expenses include $30,000 for finance software, $45,000 for sound equipment at FMS, $15,000 for a generator at PES, and $20,000 for a track shed at the high school. 

Unlike many school districts in the area, RSU 5 is projected to receive an increase in state aid, estimated at $124,600 in FY 2019. 

The School Department will hold three “Dine and Discuss” workshops, one in each town, where residents can ask questions about the budget before the annual budget meeting on May 23 and the referendum on June 12.

The first will be held April 11 at Pownal Elementary School, followed by April 25 at Durham Community School and May 9 at Freeport High School. 

Foley said the Town Council will not formally review the school budget before the annual budget meeting.

The Town Council is scheduled to see Town Manager Peter Joseph’s fiscal year 2019 municipal budget on May 1. 

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.