SAD 75 voters back $37.8M budget, roof bond

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TOPSHAM — Voters in School Administrative District 75 Tuesday approved the school budget and borrowing for replacement of school roofs.

The fiscal year 2019 budget passed 4,279 to 1,021, and the $1.56 million bond for district-wide roof replacements passed 4,265 to 1,094.

Next year’s $37.3 million budget is up about $459,000, or 1.2 percent, from current spending. It received initial voter approval at a district budget meeting May 24.

The budget passed 1,965 to 442 in Topsham; 1,308 to 247 in Harpswell; 402-176 in Bowdoin; and 604-156 in Bowdoinham.

The roof bond gained approval by a vote of 1,953 to 468 in Topsham; 1,322 to 265 in Harpswell; 395-192 in Bowdoin; and 595-169 in Bowdoinham.

Superintendent Brad Smith on Tuesday expressed his gratitude to district voters on both questions.

“The board, in developing the budget, is constantly aware of the balancing of student needs and taxpayer impacts,” he said. “We took a very conservative approach to the budget, knowing that increased taxes are always an important issue.”

“Once again, our communities have shown their support for the value of education, including taking care of the investment in facilities and funding the quality of education in times of shifting funding to the local level,” Smith added.

Subtracting revenues such as state subsidy from the proposed budget, nearly $24 million will come from SAD 75 taxpayers. Topsham could pay $10.3 million (up 5.8 percent), Harpswell $7.7 million (down 0.2 percent), Bowdoin $2.9 million (up 2.6 percent), and Bowdoinham $3 million (up 4.1 percent).

The number of students and the state-assessed valuation of property drive the amount of each town’s contribution. The valuations are a key factor for next year; Topsham’s have risen, while Harpswell’s have been mostly flat, according to Business Manager Mark Conrad.

An average $204,300 home in Topsham could see a $115 tax bill hike; a $430,000 Harpswell home, a $4 decrease; a $117,600 Bowdoin home, a $40 bump; and a $179,000 Bowdoinham home, an $80 hike.

Meanwhile, the $1.56 million, 10-year, roof improvement 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.

Subsequent annual payments would shrink over the life of the bond.

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.

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.