OXFORD — An unanticipated windfall from this year’s budget will allow the Oxford Hills School District to carry over $600,000, potentially easing some of the burden of another challenging budget next year.

At the SAD 17 Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, Finance Committee Chairman Joe Vaillancourt reported that the district’s anticipated carry-over from the 2013-14 budget was $1.6 million, $600,000 more than projected last year. 

Superintendent Rick Colpitts, speaking after the meeting, said much of the unanticipated carry-over came from contingency funding the district budgeted for a planned curtailment, fuel oil, and negotiations.

Another portion of the unspent funds came from a hiring freeze put in place by the administration last year, he said. 

“There are a number of different steps that we usually apply midyear to try to come up with $1 million in savings,” Colpitts said. 

The district usually brings forward about $1 million from each budget year to ease the burden on local property taxpayers.

The carry-over amount used to be around $350,000, but when times started to get tough, the district began upping it, Colpitts said. 

“Keep in mind that each year in our proposed budget, we propose a certain carry-over amount so taxpayers don’t have to raise it,” Colpitts said after the meeting.

The district has gotten used to squeezing all the savings it can out of the budget so it can apply it to next year’s expenses, but has not become dependent on the carry-over, he explained. 

“Now we’re depending on always coming up with $1 million before raising the taxes even more to pay for it,” he said.

Although the district has more than it anticipated to apply to next year’s budget year, it still needed to come up with an additional $400,000 to budget for another $1 million carry-over. 

“It’s much more promising than I had hoped,” he said.

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