SAD 75 budget, borrowing proposal go to voters in June

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TOPSHAM — Along with a proposed $38 million fiscal year 2019 budget, a $1.56 million bond for roof replacements will go to School Administrative District 75 voters in June.

If approved, the 10-year bond would be issued next spring. An interest-only payment of $33,000 would follow in fiscal year 2020, with the maximum annual payment of about $190,000 coming in FY 2021, Business Director Mark Conrad explained during a March 29 budget forum at Bowdoin Central School.

Subsequent annual payments would shrink over the life of the bond. The impact on each town has yet to be determined, Conrad said.

The entire Bowdoin Central School roof would be replaced (at a cost of nearly $450,000), as would the roof on the 1964 addition, part of the 1959 addition and the gym roof at the Williams-Cone Elementary School (nearly $432,000), along with the roofs on the 1956 building and 1960 and 1987 additions at Harpswell Community School (about $358,000).

Additionally, the roof on the gym and adjacent health rooms and health wing canopy would be replaced at Mt. Ararat Middle School, at a cost of $320,000. Structural upgrades to the gym and adjacent health rooms there, as well as to the Williams-Cone gym, are also planned.

“From my perspective, if we don’t bond those roofs, we’re going to have to find a way to put more operating (budget) into those roofs,” Conrad said. “What we can’t do is just ignore the issue; we’ve got to maintain watertight roofs for our students, or you’re going to have air quality concerns.”

The Bowdoin roof is 16 years old, and the others are between 26 and 33, he noted.

Conrad said the work is not included in the operating budget because state law requires such an expense to be a separate ballot article from the June budget validation referendum.

“The voters have a direct opportunity to approve it or not approve it at the ballot box,” Conrad added.

As proposed and still subject to change, next year’s budget would increase 1.9 percent, with a district-wide tax hike of 4.25 percent. Log onto link75.org for more information.

“It plays out differently in each town based upon your valuation, and the number of students you have attending,” Superintendent Brad Smith explained.

With revenues such as state subsidy subtracted from the proposed budget, $24.2 million is left to come from taxpayers in SAD 75’s four towns. Of this, Topsham could pay $10.3 million (up 6.8 percent), Harpswell $7.8 million (up 0.9 percent), Bowdoin $2.9 million (up 3.7 percent), and Bowdoinham $3.1 million (up 5.1 percent).

An average $204,300 home in Topsham would see a $134 tax bill increase; a $430,000 Harpswell home, $17; a $117,600 Bowdoin home, $57; and a $179,000 Bowdoinham home, $100.

The SAD 75 Board of Directors is due April 26 to approve the budget, which then goes to district voters in two separate decisions on May 24 and June 12. The second vote will include both the budget and roofs bond.

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.