Freeport's exit from RSU 5 could add up to $345K to tax bill

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FREEPORT — The tax impact if the town withdraws from Regional School Unit 5 would range from a reduction of almost $289,000 to an increase of almost $345,000, depending on how many RSU students attend Freeport schools. 

The Freeport Withdrawal Committee on Tuesday presented the estimate to the Town Council in a financial analysis of a stand-along Freeport school district.

Councilors also heard from Lyndon Keck, an architect with plans for the pending high school renovation.

The financial analysis was a draft, based on numbers from the last school year, because tuition rates are not settled for the current year.

If all tuition students, including Freeport students and 60 from Durham and Pownal, continue to attend Freeport schools, the tax burden would be reduced by almost $289,000. Without the 60 students from the other RSU towns, the tax increase would be nearly $345,000.

If withdrawal is approved in a Nov. 4 referendum, the RSU will have to decide where it wants to send the 60 students.

The total revenue for the proposed Freeport school district would be nearly $17.9 million, and the total expenditures would be $17.6 million.

The total tuition for students in kindergarten through eighth grade would be about $448,000 and for high school students it would be about $1.9 million. For the draft, 510 students were at Freeport High School, 297 at Freeport Middle School, 267 at Mass Landing School, and 260 at Morse Street School.

The required local contribution would be about $11.5 million, with an additional local contribution of $2.5 million. Freeport would also receive $197,000 in revenue in non-shared debt from the RSU.

About $553,000 would come from a state subsidy and $165,000 would be a special education reimbursement from RSU 5.

The other types of revenue are Hunter Road maintenance, State Agency Funds, Medicaid, miscellaneous, Laugh and Learn, Contingency, and a fund balance.

The withdrawal committee distributed packets to the council and the public including every line item that would make up the Freeport school district budget. This included salaries, books, technology, equipment, and more. 

“We tried to make sure when we were making a decision, it was the least subjective,” Freeport Withdrawal Committee Chairman Peter Murray said.

For the high school renovation, Keck said he isn’t sure of the time-line of the project yet. He said time would first have to be spent working with the community to generate ideas. 

Keck said site and renovation costs together could cost about $6.5 million, which is 45 percent of the $14.6 million bond approved by voters last November. He said once final plans are made, the cost of the project could cost up to $9 million.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.