Letter: Back the SAD 51 budget

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SAD 51 provides Cumberland and North Yarmouth with a superior product at a reasonable price.

For the second year in a row, the district has proposed a 0 percent budget increase. With inflation at 2.2 percent for the last 12 months and built-in cost increases, arriving at a flat budget is challenging and took a collaborative effort by many stakeholders. For instance, this past year the district worked with the community to repurpose Drowne Road School, saving more than $121,000 annually.

From data available on the state of Maine website, in 2008-09 SAD51 spent the lowest amount per pupil from local property taxes (our own pockets) at $5,385, while the highest of our neighbors spent $11,132. Even though a greater percentage of our expenditures are state funded, the same neighbor spent 7.4 percent more per pupil than SAD51.

Despite the district arriving at a 0 percent increase in expenditures, the state has decreased its funding for 2010-11. The state’s reduction is a factor beyond the district’s control and is the driving factor behind the impact of the 2010-11 budget on property taxes. Taking into account the proposed budget’s tax impact, the tax assessment from SAD 51 to both Cumberland and North Yarmouth over the last five budget cycles will average 1.44 percent, less than the annual rate of inflation over the same period.

Our reasonable investment yields a remarkable benefit. I encourage you to further invest in our community by supporting our school budget.

Vickie C. Bell