BUCKFIELD — Regional School Unit 10 directors decided Monday to use any extra money budgeted for employee health insurance in 2021-22 to eliminate increases in assessments to Buckfield and Hartford taxpayers.

Business Manager Leah Kaulback said the proposed budget stands at $30.22 million, a 2.65% increase from this year’s $29.44 million. It would not increase assessments to Hanover, Mexico, Roxbury, Rumford and Sumner. However without applying the extra budgeted for health insurance, Buckfield would have a 0.913% increase and Hartford a 1.254% increase in assessments.

Superintendent Deb Alden said Tuesday that the district received a letter from its health insurance provider stating the maximum increase would be 4.2%, but a final figure would be provided by April 6.

Originally, the district budgeted a 10% increase in employee health insurance for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“This means, even if we come in with the highest increase (in health insurance costs) all seven of our towns will have a negative tax impact for the upcoming budget,” Alden said in an email.

Kaulback told directors that although the overall budget increase for RSU10 in 2021-22  is 2.65%, the district has cut the budget by just over $382,000. She said fixed costs for salaries and benefits totaling $974,000 would have increased the budget by that amount “even if we kept all (other) things the same.”

Speaking on behalf of their budget proposals were Department Directors Scott Holmes, building, grounds and transportation, Leanne Condon, curriculum, instruction and assessment, Brian Carrier, technology, and Jeanne LaPointe, nutrition.

The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. April 12 at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. A board vote on the final district budget is set for 6:30 p.m. April 26 at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School.

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