NEWRY — Owners of properties valued at $100,000 could see their annual tax bills drop $69, if School Administrative District 44 voters approve changing the cost-sharing formula from 100 percent valuation to 90 percent valuation and 10 percent student enrollment, Administrative Assistant Amy Bernard said.

However, owners may not see the savings because selectmen may decide to spend that money on infrastructure or paying town debt, she said.

Newry Selectman Jim Largess, who has been an outspoken supporter of the formula change since it was first proposed, and firmly against Newry’s withdrawal, said it’s important Newry students have a local school to attend, and that he doesn’t see an alternative that’s better than the formula change at this point.

“If Newry withdraws, that’s a huge tax increase (for the other three towns),” Largess said. “Jake Clockodile said it seems fair (from his) outside view. It’s not like Newry is asking for a $2 million reduction; we’re asking for what’s fair. There’s a lot of people from away that are paying for SAD 44 and that’s OK. It’s a good model — we’re lucky to have those tax dollars.”

A source representing Newry, who wished to remain anonymous, said that when those opposed say changing the formula is just giving a break to the second and third homeowners in Newry, it’s actually giving a break to every taxpayer in Newry.

“On the flip side, those (second and third) homeowners don’t have a say in how their money is spent,” the source said. “They’re not registered to vote here. But Newry doesn’t really have a high tax rate.”

Bonnie Largess, who is a member of the school board and the Newry Withdrawal Committee, said she can see where those views about giving second and third homeowners a break come from, but that it’s important to look at how the formula change will affect the individual voter — and when going to the polls, residents should also think about the students.

“We want to educate those kids, and we need money to provide them with modern technology,” she said. “We’ve got the senior class going to Central Maine Community College and freshmen are going to 4-H. We’re changing things up and there’s some great kids coming out of Telstar (Regional High School in Bethel).”

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