LIVERMORE — Interim Superintendent Robert Webster told Regional School Unit 73 directors Thursday that revenue shortfalls will impact the 2019-20 budget, which stands at $19.59 million as proposed.

That’s an increase of $786,399, or 4 percent more than this year’s $18.8 million.

There will be less money coming from the state this year and combined with the budget increase, more local money will have to be raised, Webster said.

“The cash balance is substantially less than what was applied to this year’s budget,” he said.

Taxes were reduced considerably for this fiscal year by using most of the surplus from 2017-18.

Webster said leftover balances from 2017-18 and 2018-19 are down, in part, because of unexpected costs.

Board Vice Chairman Michael Morrell said he would like administrators to see if the proposed increase could be cut in half without cutting positions.

Business Manager Kristal Flagg said much of the increase comes from debt service and payroll and benefits.

Debt service will increase $308,044 next year, primarily from energy efficiency renovations in buildings.

That amount will drop by $210,869 the following year, Spruce Mountain Middle School Principal Scott Albert said.

Board member and Building/Grounds Committee Chairman Doug DiPasquale said there were unexpected costs with the renovations.

“Siemens, the firm overseeing the renovations, kind of promised us the world,” he said. “We won’t see the benefits this year. I want them to come in and talk to us.”

Albert said debt service and the $70,000 being paid to former Superintendent Todd LeRoy account for exactly 2 percent of the budget increase next year.

“We have to pay those things,” Albert said. “Most likely it will be people and programs cut.”

Board member Denise Rodzen said potential cuts could come from the high school guidance department, advanced degree course allotments and central office staff. Changing auditors and reviewing current programs were others.

Rodzen said to look for cuts that don’t directly affect students.

“Without kids, there’s no reason for us to be here,” Rodzen said.

Board member Shari Ouellette said each year the board cuts out everything it can, then has no contingency if anything happens.

Morrell said a 2 percent increase wouldn’t be pretty.

Board member Tammy Frost said town budgets in the district have gone up. If the district cuts its budget and it fails because of town budgets, that could lead to extreme cuts to get the budget passed.

“We have to be leery of how much we cut out of our budget because the kids could be losing,” Frost said.

In other business, Webster announced the resignation of Fiona Baker, administrative assistant to the superintendent. Her last day is March 4.

Board Chairman Robert Staples said Baker accepted a similar position at the Travis Mills Foundation in Rome.

“Fiona has been volunteering there summers,” Staples said. “It’s close to her home. She’s done an amazing job here.”

The next board meeting is at 6 p.m. March 14 at Spruce Mountain Elementary School.

The next budget meeting is at 6 p.m. March 21 at Spruce Mountain High School, and district budget meeting is at 6 p.m. April 4 at Spruce Mountain Middle School.

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