RSU 1 budget gets added funds for art, music

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BATH — A $27.3 million spending plan for Regional School Unit 1 passed the first of two public votes Tuesday at the district’s budget meeting.

The meeting, held at Bath Middle School, ran about two hours and drew nearly 90 voters from the RSU 1 communities of Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich.

Along with approving budget items as proposed, voters also added two items to the spending plan: an extra half-day of band instruction in Phippsburg, at a cost of $7,100, and an additional day of art in Woolwich, for more than $8,200, according to RSU Business Manager Debra Clark.

After discussion about transportation costs, an amendment to add $27,000 for an extra bus run in Phippsburg was defeated.

“The board assured the public that it was aware that there are long bus rides and that they will be researching this further,” Clark said in an email Wednesday.

The fiscal 2016 budget is down 3.6 percent from current spending. The exit of West Bath, which voted overwhelmingly last December to leave the school district at the end of June, is the major contributor to the decline.

The RSU’s total local contribution for this fiscal year was $18.8 million. The tax contribution without West Bath would have been $16.1 million. Total local taxes for next year could be $16.8 million, or an apples-to-apples increase of 4.9 percent.

Of that increase, 3.1 percent would be due to additional expenses, while 1.7 percent, or about $273,000, is the net impact of West Bath’s withdrawal: loss of both revenue and expenses from the town, and additional state and tuition revenue to the district, Clark has said.

Bath’s piece of the tax bill could be $9.6 million, a hike of 4.8 percent; Arrowsic, about $452,000, up 4 percent; Phippsburg, nearly $3 million, up 6.6 percent; and Woolwich, $3.8 million, up 3.8 percent.

The budget goes to a validation referendum on Tuesday, June 9.

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

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.