SAD 44 votes to change cost-sharing formula

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BETHEL — SAD 44 residents Tuesday voted 1,522 to 1,117 in favor of a proposed change to the district’s cost-sharing formula.

Some officials and residents of School Administrative District 44 have hoped that the formula change, which is more favorable to Newry, will encourage those residents to remain in the district, rather than to continue their school withdrawal process.

Two previous proposals to change the formula were defeated by district voters, the most recent before Tuesday by a narrow margin in November 2017.

This year’s proposal carried a major change from the one that was defeated last year: For the approved formula to go into effect, Newry will have to vote to end its withdrawal process at its town meeting in March.

Assessments to the SAD 44 towns are based 100 percent on valuation, leaving Newry with the highest share, at about $3 million of the roughly $8.4 million total. The town is home to Sunday River Ski Resort.

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.

Negotiations between Newry and SAD 44 to come up with a withdrawal agreement for Newry residents to vote on are stalemated. Such an agreement is required for withdrawal to proceed.

If Newry were able to withdraw from SAD 44, there would likely be a $2 million tax shift from Newry to Bethel and Woodstock, according to district officials. The town of Greenwood also is in SAD 44.

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