SAD 44 cost-sharing formula hearing Oct. 3

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BETHEL – The SAD 44 School Board has scheduled a public hearing for Oct. 3 on a proposal to change the district’s budget cost sharing formula. 

The hearing will start at 6:30 p.m. at Telstar.

A referendum vote on the question will take place on Nov. 6.

A similar formula proposal was narrowly defeated in a referendum last November, but a citizen petition prompted a return to the issue this spring.

Both proposals called for factoring student population of each of the district towns into the formula that divides up the local school tax total of approximately $8.4 million. Because Newry has only about two dozen students, it would shift some of that town’s taxes to the other three towns.

Currently, the tax shares are based 100 percent on valuation (technically known as fiscal capacity), leaving Newry with the highest share, at about $3 million. If approved, the formula change’s impact would be phased in over a nine-year period, with the final version of the formula remaining in place thereafter.

For the first two years of the phase-in town taxes would be calculated based 95 percent on valuation and 5 percent on student population. For the next three years, they would be based 90 percent on valuation and 10 percent on population. For the next three years it would be 88/12 percent, and then finally shift to 85/15 percent for 2028 and beyond.

The figures themselves did not change from the November proposal, but the phase-in would be a year longer.

The proposal also carries a major change from last year: its implementation would be contingent on Newry residents voting to end the town’s current SAD 44 school withdrawal process.

District officials have said that a Newry withdrawal would have a severe financial impact on the other towns.

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