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RSU 1 sets March 19 referendum on cost formula

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RSU 1 sets March 19 referendum on cost formula

By Alex Lear BATH — Regional School Unit 1 will hold a district-wide referendum March 19 on a new cost-sharing formula. The RSU 1 Board of Directors, which unanimously adopted the new plan last month, set the referendum date Monday. Public meetings on the matter will be he...By Alex Lear

BATH — Regional School Unit 1 will hold a district-wide referendum March 19 on a new cost-sharing formula.

The RSU 1 Board of Directors, which unanimously adopted the new plan last month, set the referendum date Monday.

Public meetings on the matter will be held at Woolwich Central School on Wednesday, Feb. 27, Bath Middle School on Tuesday, March 5, and West Bath School on Tuesday, March 12. All three start at 6 p.m.

The plan endorsed by the board changes the cost-sharing formula for the current, fiscal 2013 budget, so that a law that created the school district would apply to its entire local tax calculation.

The local contribution from the five RSU 1 communities – the funds raised through taxes – had been split into two elements: a minimum amount that the state requires, and a portion over and above that amount. State subsidy to the district had been presented on a form based on the essential programs and services model.

The other local contribution piece was the additional amount each community must raise, beyond the EPS model. That contribution stipulated a cost-sharing formula based on equal thirds: student population, state valuation of a community and the community’s population in the most recent census.

The board had heard arguments from the public in support of the change, but its decision drew criticism from some municipal officials.

Meanwhile, West Bath is suing RSU 1– which also includes Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich – to recover $1.9 million the town believes it overpaid in the first four years of the school district’s existence.

West Bath’s lawsuit, filed last October, claims it should have been assessed a total of $8.2 million in fiscal years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, but instead paid $10.1 million.

The suit claims RSU 1 owes West Bath $1.9 million, plus interest. Both RSU 1 and Bath have filed motions to dismiss the case.

Bath was allowed by a judge to join RSU 1 in its defense of the lawsuit. West Bath also recently included Arrowsic and Woolwich as defendants in the case, according to West Bath Town Manager Jonathan Davis.

West Bath claims that Bath, Arrowsic and Woolwich underpaid in the first few years of the RSU’s existence.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.