SAD 75 voters OK $37.6M budget for fiscal 2017

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TOPSHAM — Voters in School Administrative District 75 approved a $37.6 million district budget, 1,454 to 513, at Tuesday’s referendum.

The spending plan passed 630-277 in Topsham, 401-80 in Harpswell, 197-79 in Bowdoin, and 226-77 in Bowdoinham, according to unofficial results reported by SAD 75 Business Manager Steve Dyer.

A second question about whether to continue the budget validation referendum process passed 599-249 in Topsham, 318-143 in Harpswell, 192-84 in Bowdoin, and 194-95 in Bowdoinham, Dyer said.

Dyer noted that Tuesday’s vote reflected similar results to what the district has experienced in recent years.

“We really appreciate the support that the taxpayers have provided for our budget, and we will continue to present the most fair budget to the taxpayers that is possible,” he said.

The fiscal 2017 spending plan is up from this year’s $36.9 million budget. Offsetting revenues total $15.1 million, and primarily include a $14.6 million contribution from the state. That state subsidy is down 2.95 percent from the $15.1 million SAD 75 received for the current fiscal year.

After the budget was approved last year, the district also received additional aid totaling about $318,000 from the state, which is being carried forward in next year’s budget to offset the state revenue loss, according to Dyer.

With revenues subtracted from the total budget, $22.5 million will come through taxes from SAD 75’s four towns – an increase of 2.22 percent, or about $489,000.

Topsham’s share is $9.2 million, an increase of 3.41 percent; Harpswell will pay $7.7 million, or 0.84 percent more; Bowdoin, $2.7 million, up 2.24 percent, and Bowdoinham, $2.8 million, up 2.22 percent.

Nearly $210,000 in budget increases includes $150,000 for architectural planning for a new Mt. Ararat High School; $51,000 for a new teacher at the Williams-Cone Elementary School due to a planned reduction in class sizes, and $63,000 for a teacher of the deaf who would also be an interpreter.

A 3 percent increase in salaries has also been built into the spending plan.

About $167,000 in reductions include eliminating a teaching position at both the Woodside and Bowdoinham Community schools because of declining enrollment. Thanks to anticipated retirements, Superintendent Brad Smith is not expecting any layoffs.

The district also plans for savings from the retirement of five full-time employees, and one half-time staff member; longtime employees at a higher pay grade will be replaced by newer staff, who are paid less.

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.