Topsham meeting advances $37.6M budget for SAD 75

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TOPSHAM — Approximately 40 voters from the four towns in School Administrative District 75 approved a $37.6 million district budget May 26.

The district budget meeting, held at the Orion Performing Arts Center, was the first in a two-step public approval process. Next year’s spending plan must also be ratified in a budget validation referendum Tuesday, June 14.

The 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, Business Manager Steve Dyer explained at the budget meeting.

“We reached a low point in fiscal year ’13, and then ’14, ’15 and ’16 we actually got more and more subsidy,” he said, noting that subsidy is based on a district’s student count and state valuation.

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

Topsham’s share is projected to be $9.2 million, an increase of 3.41 percent; Harpswell could 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 proposed 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 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 is also 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. Due to anticipated retirements, Superintendent Brad Smith has not expected 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 Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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.