FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors voted unanimously Thursday to use the majority of $729,954 in additional state funds to reduce tax assessments and borrowing for capital improvement projects.

Directors anticipated the district would receive more subsidy but they did not know how much before the first proposed budget of $33.89 million failed by a vote of 1,457 to 1,641 on June 13.

The state officials did not approve a budget until early July.

Directors still did not know when they set the second districtwide budget vote for 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 25, at Bjorn Auditorium at Mt. Blue Campus.

When directors found out the amount, it was too late to change the budget review pamphlet sent out to residents for a proposed $33.55 million budget. The tax assessments and the budget proposal listed are no longer valid. With the additional revenue and changes made Thursday factored in, the new proposed budget for 2017-18 is $33.9 million, an increase of $1.15 million. 

The stipulation on the additional state revenue, since a budget had not been approved by the time a state budget passed, is that 50 percent of it be used to lower tax assessments.

On Thursday, the board voted to use $378,165 to reduce tax assessments, a little more than half of the money. The superintendent and board’s goal all along was to reduce the overall assessments to a zero increase and still meet the needs of students.

Some towns will see an increase and some a decrease in assessments because of changes in town valuations, board Chairman Jennifer Zweig Hebert said. The state uses an average of three years of town valuations to determine education subsidies, Superintendent Tom Ward said.

Prior to the vote, some members of the public and directors requested the additional money to be used to reduce borrowing for the $317,834 capital project bond voters approved June 13 or pay for the projects outright. Others disagreed, saying voters approved the bond and there are student needs to be met. Another member of the public wanted all of the money to go to reduce taxes. 

The board voted to use $165,018 for capital improvement projects at schools and bus garage to reduce the amount to be borrowed. Voters approved a $317,834 capital improvement bond in a referendum on June 13.

In a mixed vote, directors approved adding a half-time guidance counselor position at the Mt. Blue High School and a half-time student services coordinator position at Foster Career and Technical Education Center, both at Mt. Blue Campus, at a cost of $50,340. Adding those two part-time positions will create two full-time positions. Currently one full-time position is shared between the high school guidance and Foster student services budgets. The money allocated includes one benefit package for about $11,000, district Business Manager Kris Pottle said. This will allow the position to no longer be shared.

In another mixed vote, the board voted to spend $136,018 to hire two social workers for regular education students. They will be shared between Mt. Blue Middle School, Cape Cod Hill School and Wilton and Farmington schools.

Proposals to increase two half-time teaching positions, American Sign Language and science, to full-time were not approved.

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Proposed tax assessments to RSU 9 towns, if budget approved

Difference compared to tax assessments in 2016-17:

Chesterville: $959,457, increase of $23,370;

Farmington: $4.6 million, decrease of $8,862;

Industry: $837,638, increase of $29,036;

New Sharon: $1 million, decrease of $4,571;

New Vineyard: $715,915, increase of $10,439;

Starks: $388,529, increase of $29,836;

Temple: $428,150, decrease of $12,124;

Vienna: $700,508, increase of $748;

Weld: $460,252, decrease of $10,236; and

Wilton: $2.83 million, decrease of $57,637.

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