FREEPORT — A $500,000 error in the proposed fiscal year 2018 school budget will increase the expected tax impact from 4 percent to almost 6.5 percent.
It may also require nearly $280,000 in spending cuts to programs including nutrition, music and math.
Regional School Unit 5 Superintendent Becky Foley and the RSU5 Board of Directors met in a special meeting March 15 to plan a strategy to reduce the impact on taxpayers.
The mistake happened when a figure from the current budget “was incorrectly carried forward into the spreadsheet,” Foley said in a memo to the board. “The number entered in the 2016-17 shared revenue line of the working budget document was $600,391, and it should have been $1,100,391.”
“The number carried forward understated the tax impact for the proposed budget,” she continued. “The net impact to taxation increases from 4.22 percent to 6.43 percent with the change. It does not impact the 4.86 percent expenditure increase change from last year’s budget.”
Budget documents are posted on the district’s website, rsu5.org.
At the March 15 meeting, the Freeport-Pownal-Durham School Board asked Foley to review the budget to keep the tax increase to property owners around 5 percent.
Foley on March 24 said the focus is on what is best for children in RSU 5, instead of on the error.
She said reductions in programs and spending to reduce the now-higher tax impact will come from cuts to the nutrition program, band, math, bus leases and summer guidance at Freeport High School.
The proposed cuts total nearly $279,000.
Board members got a first look at the proposed 2018 budget Jan. 25. It called for spending about $32.3 million for operations, up from the $31 million this year.
The next RSU5 meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. April 12 at Pownal Elementary School.
Documents for the May 24 annual budget meeting will be posted April 27.