TOPSHAM — Next year’s School Administrative District 75 budget could cause the overall tax rate for the four member towns to rise 2.68 percent, or nearly $589,000, according to a March 15 draft of the spending plan.
The budget could increase from this year’s $36.9 million, to $37.7 million in fiscal year 2017. Offsetting revenues, totalling $15.1 million, primarily include a $14.6 million state contribution.
With those revenues subtracted from the total budget, $22.6 million will come through taxes from SAD 75’s four towns. Topsham’s share is currently projected to be $9.3 million, up 3.83 percent; Harpswell could pay $7.8 million, a 1.33 percent increase; Bowdoin, $2.8 million, up 2.72 percent; and Bowdoinham, $2.8 million, up 2.65 percent.
Nearly $210,000 in proposed increases in the spending plan include $150,000 for architectural work in planning a new Mt. Ararat High School; $51,000 for a new teacher at the Williams-Cone elementary school due to a reduction in class sizes, and $63,000 for a teacher of the deaf and interpreter.
Also built into the budget are a 3 percent hike in salaries and a placeholder increase of 3 percent for health insurance.
The spending plan also calls for about $167,000 in reductions, including elimination of a teaching position at the Woodside and Bowdoinham Community schools because of declining enrollment. Due to anticipated retirements, Superintendent Brad Smith does not expect anyone to be laid off, he said in an interview March 16.
The district also anticipates savings from the retirement of five full-time employees along with one half-time staff member, since longtime employees at a higher pay grade would be replaced by newer staff.
Budget numbers are subject to change in the next month; log onto link75.org for more information.
In the meantime, three public forums will be held on the spending plan, all starting at 6:30 p.m.: Monday, March 28, at Harpswell Community School, Tuesday, March 29, at Williams-Cone School in Topsham, and Thursday, March 31, at Bowdoin Central School.
The SAD 75 Board of Directors will vote on the budget Thursday, May 12. The spending plan will come before voters at a town meeting-style gathering at the Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham on Thursday, May 26, and in a budget validation referendum in the four towns Tuesday, June 14.