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Regional School Unit 1 taxes estimated to rise 6%

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Regional School Unit 1 taxes estimated to rise 6%

BATH — The total tax assessment to the five communities in Regional School Unit 1 could increase 6.09 percent next year, to $18.4 million.

The district's preliminary fiscal 2014 budget, discussed Monday by the RSU 1 Board of Directors, does not yet state how the assessment would be broken down between Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich. RSU 1 is waiting for information confirming how much subsidy it will receive from the state before making that determination.

The budget itself could grow 6.34 percent, or $1.65 million, to $27.7 million. Offsetting revenues include $8.6 million in state subsidy, a nearly $612,000 estimated increase over the current year. The $18.4 million that remains after the revenues is what must be raised through taxes.

Salaries, which comprise nearly 52 percent of the budget, are projected to increase 3.19 percent, to $14.3 million.

About $303,000 of the budget's proposed $1.65 million increase would fund new positions, according to Ruth Moore, the district's business manager. Among those jobs are four new educational technicians, which Moore said are needed due to a larger number of special education students, along with a school resource officer to be based at Morse High School.

A pre-kindergarten program, which currently has 97 children across the district, is also proposed to expand to 110 slots, and a new pre-kindergarten classroom would be created in Phippsburg, Moore said.

A new district-wide maintenance person is also proposed, according to Moore.

Total benefits, making up about 14 percent of the spending plan, could rise 15.5 percent, or about $534,000, to nearly $4 million. That increase includes $354,000 that RSU 1 might have to pay toward teacher retirements. Gov. Paul LePage has proposed shifting the expense to school districts across the state.

Forums will be held on the spending plan at Woolwich Central School on April 8, and at the Fisher-Mitchell elementary school in Bath on April 22. The budget will then go to two public votes – a district budget meeting on May 28, and a budget validation referendum on June 4.

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