RSU 5 expects nearly 9.2% budget increase

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FREEPORT — The fiscal 2016 budget for Regional School Unit 5 is expected to increase by $2.5 million, or 9.15 percent.

The RSU 5 Board of Directors on March 25 held a budget review meeting to discuss the budget for the Freeport, Durham, and Pownal district. The total operating budget is expected to be over $29.8 million.

If approved, the budget would result in $1.7 million in additional property taxes in Freeport, or a 7.57 percent increase. Taxpayers would see an increase to $1.20 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Taxpayers in Durham would see an increase of 10.18 percent, to $1.69 per $1,000 of assessed value. In Pownal, there would be an increase of 9.97 percent, to $3.44 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Much of the budget increase represents a proposed increase of $1.1 million in salaries and benefits for existing employees. Additionally, an increase of $1 million is expected for new positions.

Other increases include $330,500 in operating costs and $315,500 for supplies, equipment, and technology.

The budget also projects a tuition decline of almost $287,000.

The RSU 5 board on May 13 will hold a final budget adoption meeting and the annual budget meeting to officially approve the budget will be held May 27.

High school renovation

The Project Review Board, meanwhile, will be viewing and voting Wednesday, April 8, on conceptual plans for the renovation of Freeport High School.

RSU 5 Chairman Nelson Larkins said going before the board is standard for any project and that the building architects expect to receive approval. He said all the drawings of the almost 30,000-square-foot renovations have been completed.

Larkins said once the project is approved, the architect will finalize the plan and put out a request for bids. Larkins said construction is expected to start in October.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I’m a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I’m from a small town in NH no one’s ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.