RSU 1 to hold 2nd budget hearing April 24

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BATH — After only three members of the public – two of them school employees – attended Monday’s Regional School Unit 1 budget public hearing, the next several weeks could be smooth sailing for the district’s fiscal year 2018 draft budget.

RSU 1 Business Manager Debra Clark was the only one who spoke, she said in an interview Tuesday. Residents of the RSU will have another chance to weigh in on the budget at a hearing taking place as part of the RSU 1 Board of Directors meeting at Bath Middle School at 6 p.m. Monday, April 24.

The board is due to vote on the spending plan May 8 and then send it to district voters at the May 30 district budget meeting at Bath Middle School at 6 p.m. Voters will weigh the budget a second and final time at the June 13 budget validation referendum.

No changes have been made yet to RSU 1’s first-draft budget, first presented March 27. The Finance Committee was to meet Thursday, April 6, “and we’ll see what happens then,” Clark said.

In the meantime, the district awaits more information on a few unknowns, such as the amount of state subsidy it will receive, and how much health insurance expenses will be.

RSU 1 expects to receive $9.4 million in state aid, up $74,000, and has budgeted for a 7 percent health insurance hike, versus fiscal year 2017, when there was no increase.

The draft budget calls for a 2.9 percent spending increase, which could result in a 4.5 percent overall hike in the tax rate.

Spending would increase by $826,000 to $29.1 million. Of the total, $17.9 million could come from taxes – up about $775,000 from the current year.

The tax impact across RSU 1’s four communities is estimated at $10.1 million in Bath, up 4.4 percent; nearly $547,000 in Arrowsic, up 7.6 percent; $3.1 million in Phippsburg, up 3.9 percent, and $4.1 million for Woolwich, up 4.9 percent.

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

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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.