POLAND — RSU 16’s proposed $20 million budget for 2014-15 received a ringing endorsement at Monday’s districtwide meeting.

The vote for the only article requiring a written ballot, that for additional local funds which exceed the state’s essential programs and services allocation model by $938,000, passed 66-4.

All other funding articles passed by an overwhelming show of hands on meeting moderator Colleen Quint’s calls for approval.

Superintendent Tina Meserve noted that while the proposed budget is about $677,000 more than the current fiscal year, the impact was mitigated by an increase in the amount of state subsidy the district will receive.

“Next year’s subsidy will be about $385,000 higher than this year’s, mainly because our enrollment is up,” Meserve said.

The latest figures from Augusta show the district receiving $10,170,430 in state subsidy.

Meserve noted that new to this budget are items that include $228,000 for additional staff, $59,400 to pay the first year’s costs for three new buses, $130,000 for students attending charter schools and $315,000 that is being set aside to cover salary increases for current employees. The latter an amount Meserve characterized as a “place holder” as evidence the district was negotiating contracts in good faith.

Voters attending the meeting also approved allocating $70,000 for the Adult Education program, $95,000 for a feasibility study on how best to resolve overcrowding problems at Whittier Middle School, and adding $130,000 to the district’s capital improvement program.

Mechanic Falls resident Carl Beckett said that while the proposed budget is up, Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland were paying, collectively, almost $2 million more for their schools seven years ago, before forming RSU 16.

Meserve said she expected the proposed budget would have relatively small impacts on local property taxes.

According to her estimates, property taxes on a house in Mechanic Falls with an assessed value of $100,000 would increase by $18.76; in Minot, taxes on a house assessed at $100,000 would go up $18.03; and, in Poland, property taxes on a house assessed at $100,000 would increase by $18.93.

The budget now goes to referendum votes in all three towns June 10.


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