SAD 75 voters OK $38M budget

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TOPSHAM — Voters in the four School Administrative District 75 towns on Tuesday approved a $38 million budget.

The 1,129 to 314 decision followed preliminary approval from fewer than 30 voters in a district budget meeting May 25.

The fiscal 2018 spending plan passed in Topsham, 393-116; Harpswell, 455-111; Bowdoin, 103-33, and Bowdoinham, 178-54.

Of 7,643 registered voters in Topsham, only 514, or 6.7 percent, cast ballots. Of 4,140 Harpswell voters, 572, or 13.8 percent, went to the polls.

“We sincerely appreciate the support and commitment that the voters in our four towns have shown by approving the budget for next year,” Superintendent Brad Smith said in a statement Tuesday. “The budget was prepared with a minimal increase, yet will allow us to continue to provide a quality educational experience for our students.” 

The $38 million budget reflects an increase of $605,000 over current spending. Subtracting revenues, taxpayers could pay $23.5 million, an increase of nearly $994,000 over the current local share.

Topsham could pay $9.8 million (up 6.4 percent), Harpswell $7.8 million (up 1.5 percent), Bowdoin $2.9 million (up 4.9 percent), and Bowdoinham $3 million (up 5.7 percent).

The annual tax increase on a typical Topsham home, valued at $182,000, could be $114. The increase could be $27 on a $425,000 Harpswell home, and $105 and $120 on $178,000 homes in Bowdoin and Bowdoinham, respectively.

Spending plan additions include the first of five years of payments for a new bus ($20,000), an unassigned bus driver/trainer ($43,000), a special education behavior teacher ($71,000), an elementary school teacher to compensate for larger class sizes ($71,000), and an educational technician at the Williams-Cone Elementary School ($35,000).

Costs related to building a new Mt. Ararat High School will appear in later budgets, and not impact next year’s spending plan.

Construction of the $60 million project, which includes $6.2 million for locally funded items the state will not cover, could begin in May or June 2018, with bonds going out in spring 2019, and the school opening in fall 2020.

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.