Projected school budget includes potential tax cuts in Freeport, Pownal, Durham

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FREEPORT — A $23.6 million draft budget for fiscal 2012 was presented to the Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors Tuesday, with a nearly $19,000 reduction in spending from this year.

Kelly Wentworth, director of finance and human resources, said the nearly 1 percent reduction is possible due to an increase in local revenue shares, additional money from the state and creative budgeting.

She also said the creation of a fuel reserve fund and a capital reserve fund will minimize the tax impact.

The $101,000 fuel reserve is funded by the savings realized from switching to natural gas this year and an unexpected fund balance from last year. The $115,000 capital reserve was also funded by the unexpected fund balance from 2009-2010.

The preliminary RSU 5 budget would reduce the tax impact to residents of Durham, Pownal and Freeport.

Durham is expected to see a reduction of $22,000; Pownal’s tax impact is expected to be reduced about $34,000; and Freeport’s reduction is about $18,000.

Superintendent of Schools Shannon Welsh said several priority areas – capital improvements, technology investments, enrollment adjustments, curriculum materials, athletics and student instructional time – have all been added to the budget.

“We kept what was working well and identified where there were needs to address,” she said.

School Board Chairman Neslon Larkins said the board’s goal is to make more of an effort to communicate with the leaders of all three communities throughout the budget process.

“This is a two-month work in progress,” he said.

The board was scheduled to hold another workshop on the budget Wednesday, March 23. Public input will begin on April 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Freeport High School cafeteria. More budget review with public input will take place April 27, May 11 and, if needed, May 18.

The board is expected to adopt the budget on May 25. The annual budget meeting will be held June 8, and the budget validation referendum in each town will be June 14.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.

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