SALEM TOWNSHIP — Although the proposed SAD 58 budget is 3.5 percent lower than last year’s budget, the decline in the state’s share of funding translates into a higher burden for taxpayers.

Voters will choose whether or not to cover a $477,718 funding gap.

“These funds are needed to pay for special education, athletics and co-curricular activities, operations and maintenance of plants and student transportation costs that are not recognized by the Essential Programs and Services funding model,” Superintendent Brenda Stevens explained on the district’s website

The budget review and vote begins at 6 p. m. Thursday at Mt. Abram High School. If articles are approved, voters will go to the polls Tuesday, May 22, to vote on the total budget.

The district’s total budget is $9,498,191, and two-thirds of that would come from state and other funding sources. Maine’s Department of Education pays part of each district’s budget based on its Essential Programs and Services model.

If SAD 58 voters want to keep or add programs and services, they must approve paying the extra costs. Taxpayers in five towns will need to raise the remaining $3,273,348 to close the gap. The proportion for each town is based on the municipality’s valuation and is derived from real estate sales figures.

Each towns’ share of the proposed budget is: Avon, $302,601; Eustis, $585,308; Kingfield, $1,106,975; Phillips, $624,812; and Strong, $653,650.

The $17,000 local share of the $54,449 Adult Education budget comes after the school board voted at a recent meeting against having RSU 9 operate the district’s programs.

May 22 locations and poll hours are: Avon, Municipal Building, 1116 Rangeley Road,  2-6 p.m.; Eustis Town Office, 88 Main St., 2-7 p.m.; Kingfield, Webster Hall, 38 School St., 2-7 p.m.; Strong, Forster Memorial Building, 14 South Main St., 2-6 p.m.;  Phillips, Town Office, 15 Russell St., 2-6 p.m.

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