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Proposed budget up; taxpayer share drops
DIXFIELD -- RSU 10 board members admit it's going to be a tough sell, but the fact is that even though the revised 2013-14 budget is $340,000 more, the total amount asked of taxpayers has been cut by $6,200.
"We need to make it very clear that we actually put more in the budget so the towns, overall, would see a decrease," said outgoing Supt. Tom Ward, serving as the consultant on the budget (which Ward said is at no cost) to the new superintendent.
Speaking to board members Monday night before they voted on the proposed budget, he said, "The key thing is that even though the overall budget now is a 3.9 percent increase, with the additional expenses required by the state, overall, the impact of the towns is that it decreases even more than what it was before to the towns. Overall to the towns, it's a greater decrease, but it's spread out differently because of the cost-sharing formula."
In reaching the proposed budget total of $36,521,406, Ward said measures were taken so that none of the teacher retirement increases were passed on to the taypayers. "Because teacher retirement had to be paid, we had to increase the budget."
"RSU 10, unfortunately, did not receive enough money to offset the total cost of the increase for teacher retirement. That total cost is $468,058. The increase that we did receive was $345,762. That difference is $122,296," he said.
During a meeting with the administrative team and brainstorming ideas, they asked what can they come up with additional cuts over the $1.53 million that was cut earlier for the defeated budget, "to get back to the amounts that we requested of our taxpayers at the annual budget meeting," said Ward.
Cut was $60,000 in stipends for leadership team in the buildings. "We are not doing away with the leadership team, and when the leadership team needs to meet after school hours, we'll pay them out of our curriculum wage rate line, which is $25 per hour. We do this for other committees in the district," he said, adding that they will have to budget that line to cover those expenses," said Ward.
Savings in personnel in new hires amounts to $38,500. Ward said they also discovered in summer school wages that they had overbudgeted by about $30,000. So the total amounts in cuts amount to $128,500.
By doing this, Ward said none of that teacher retirement is passed on to the taxpayers, "to get back to where we were."
Several board members expressed concern about the possible closure of the mill.
Board Chairman Jerry Wiley cautioned board members not to "cut it too bad thinking it may happen...And if does, we'll have to come back and readjust it."
Byron representative Judy Boucher suggested cutting one percent across the board.
Dixfield representative Barbara Chow responded, "If we just start cutting all over, what are going to have left? We really just can't say across because we have cut over a million and a half...I worry about the taxpayer, not about what a business is going to do. Because even if that mill closes, I still think we're going to have students up there. I don't like being reactionary and voting everything out."
Dixfield representative and vice chairman Bruce Ross said, "I think if the voters are well aware of the situation we're in, and let's face it, our future is our children. We'd better education our children appropriately. As with anything throughout the time I've been on the board, if we've got a crisis, we dealt with it when it came upon us. But we didn't go and deal with a crisis that hasn't happened."
A roll call vote was asked to approve the revised budget, resulting in a 6-6 tie. However, this was a weighed vote, which passed quite easily, 9,842 to 5,636.
Although the figure is higher than the one defeated last month, Ward said most of the district's 12 towns will pay less than last year's operating budget.
The new proposed budget impacts the member towns as follows:
* Buckfield, original budget, $38,053 more than 2012-13, revised budget,$36,728 more than 2012-13;
* Byron, original budget, $8,056 more than last year, revised budget, $13,584;
* Canton, original budget, $11,183 less than last year, revised budget, $11,502 less;
* Carthage, $9,497 more than last year, revised budget, $9,763 more;
* Dixfield, $9,701 less, revised budget, $8,254 less;
* Hanover, $19,421 more than last year, revised budget, $27,059 more;
* Hartford, $15,186 more, revised budget, $10,425 more;
* Mexico, $60,420 less than last year, revised budget $57,126 less;
* Peru, $57,211 less than last year, revised, $60, 989 less;
* Roxbury, $71,478 more than last year, revised, $80,887 more;
* Rumford, $92,774 less than last year, revised, $114,720 less;
* Sumner, $16,502 more than last year, revised, $14,846 more.
Back on June 11, the proposed of $36.18 million budget was defeated by just 32 votes, 1,573 to 1,541. It was the first budget defeat for the district, which was formed four years ago.
Asked about his opinion on Monday, new Superintendent Craig King said, "I'n not seeing any extravagance in spending. I'm not seeing irresponsible expenditures...You're at the point now, do you want to start dismembering programs? Is this a responsible budget by the board. I think so."
During the past four years, 61 positions have been eliminated. "This is not a frivolous number," said King.
Informational meetings on the revised budget will be held at 6:30 p.m. on July 23 at Region 9 in Mexico for the Dirigo and Mountain Valley regions, and at 6:30 p.m. on July 24 at Buckfield Jr. Sr. High for the Nezinscot region.
The budget validation vote is set for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 25 at Mountain Valley High School, with the budget validation referendum vote on Tuesday, July 30.
The board will hold a regular meeting on Monday.