RSU 16 budget to be debated Wednesday

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MINOT — The proposed $18.1 million budget for RSU 16 goes to voters Wednesday, May 11, in a town-meeting style forum that will be held at the Consolidated School.

Municipal officials from Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland will be on hand at 6 p.m. to check people into the meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30.

Those present at the meeting will discuss, debate and ultimately vote on the 14 articles that make up the basic proposed $18.1 million budget that runs the district’s elementary, middle and high schools, plus an additional five articles.

As proposed, the budget is about $1 million higher than the current year’s $17.1 million budget. The amount of the increase that it is estimated local taxpayers would have to come up with is $530,000.

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School officials have calculated the costs to residents in the three towns as follows:

* Mechanic Falls would see its bill for the year go up $67,621, increasing from $1,361,192 to $1,428,813.

* Minot’s bill would increase by $133,861, increasing from $1,590,089 to $1,723,950.

* Poland’s bill would increase by $328,705, increasing from $5,759,816 to $6,088,521.

School officials estimate that the proposed budget would mean, based on a house with an assessed valued of $100,000, that a property owner in Mechanic Falls would pay $45.43 more next year to support schools, a Minot property owner would pay $82.79 more, and a Poland property owner would pay an additional $46.10.

Town officials in all three communities have criticized the proposed budget, noting it includes new programs and positions, and money set aside for salary increases.

School officials point out that in the past three years 74 positions have been cut and the proposed budget is actually about $1.1 million less than what it took to run the schools three years ago. In 2008-09, the budget was $19,240,826.

The funding articles that residents will vote on are “close-ended.” That means that residents present Wednesday will be able to accept the articles as proposed or approve them for less than the proposed amount, but they cannot vote to increase the proposed amount.

The budget that voters approve Wednesday night will be sent to a referendum ballot vote, which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17, at the customary polling places in each of the three towns.

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