DIXFIELD — The Regional School Unit 56 board of directors voted 7-3 on Wednesday night to approve a proposed $13.3 million budget for 2019-20.

If approved by voters in the June 11 validation referendum, the budget would mean an 8% increase to current spending and a 22.8 percent increase, on average, to the district towns’ tax assessments, according to Superintendent Pam Doyen.

Doyen said the increased tax assessments are due in part to a $289,577 reduction in state subsidies to RSU 56.

Under the newly approved budget, the estimated increase to taxes on a property valued at $100,000 would be $455 in Carthage, $340.50 in Peru, $310 in Dixfield and $195 in Canton.

At its meeting last month, the RSU 56 board endorsed a 9% budget increase. Since then, it has learned health insurance premiums for district employees will not increase for the coming year.

“We had initially budgeted 10%, but (the insurance premiums) came in at zero,” Doyen said. “That was an additional $116,666, which brings the budget increase to 8%.”

The seven board members who supported the proposed spending plan were Barry Prescott and Barbara Chow of Dixfield; Deb Mooney, Becky Hall and Angela Cushman of Peru; Marianne Young of Carthage; and Carl Lueders of Canton.

Voting in opposition: Ross and Angela Varnum of Dixfield, and Tammy Brown of Carthage.

“We are at a tipping point,” Doyen said. “If our schools cannot offer students programming and extracurricular activities, people may opt to move or request superintendent’s agreements to go somewhere that offers more opportunities and activities.”

In other matters, the board decided to remove the district’s property at 33 Nash St. from the real estate market and, instead, to demolish the building at the site. The structure over the years had been used as office space and for a fitness center. Once the building is razed, the district will reportedly use the space for parking.

The board also approved a three-year contract for the central office staff, including payroll-accounts payable-human resources, an administrative assistant in transportation, a coordinator of special services and information technology specialists.

The RSU 56 board of directors Wednesday approved a proposed $13.3 million budget for 2019-20. Rumford Falls Times photo by Marianne Hutchinson

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