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Facing state funding decrease, RSU 3 budget drops, but taxes rise

Local share to increase 3.9%
By Fran Gonzalez | Apr 30, 2021

Unity — The Regional School Unit 3 Board of Directors on April 12 approved the proposed 2022 budget, which reflects an overall decrease of $220,000 from the previous year. The new budget includes expenditures of $20,276,900 for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Even with a decreased budget, residents can expect a 3.88% increase in taxes because of lower state funding this year. The state subsidy for FY 2022 is $9,546,976, a decrease of $607,345. Superintendent Charles Brown attributed the decrease to lower enrollment, a lower special education population, a decrease in the percentage of families considered to be in the lower socioeconomic bracket, and an increase in property valuations.

"With the decrease in state subsidy and the decrease in the approved budget," Brown said, "the local share increases 3.88%."

Assessments for each town under the proposed budget would be as follows: Brooks, $820,532, an increase of $37,205, or 4.7%, over last year; Freedom, $663,849, up $24,271, or 3.8%; Jackson, $414,679, up $10,309, or 2.5%; Knox, $600,281, up $4,336, or 0.7%; Liberty, $1,569,871, a jump of $101,784, or 6.9%; Monroe, $917,728, up $46,938, or 5.4%; Montville, $887,567, up $20,565, or 2.4%; Thorndike, $574,266, up $21,401, or 3.9%; Troy, $749,953, up $25,298, or 3.5%; Unity, $1,457,225, an increase of $30,499, or 2.1%; and Waldo, $687,973, a rise of $26,441, or 4%.

While the local share is $9,198,923, there are also $1,531,000 in funds carried over and anticipated revenues that bring the total budget to around $20.3 million.

To cut costs, the 2022 budget eliminates positions for one K-5 teacher, a part-time health teacher, a part-time reading teacher and several ed techs.

"As a district, we were able to realign resources, both material and personnel, to best meet the needs of our students," Brown said. "While there was an overall decrease in staff, the Board of Directors feels that this budget meets the needs of our students and the resources of the district.

"The RSU 3 staff, throughout the budget process, has been focused on the impact to the local communities while meeting our goals as a district. With that in mind, tough decisions and reductions were made to reach the budget level of -1.07%."

Board Chairman Richard Frost said in a letter to RSU 3 residents, "The state's subsidy to local schools to support public education depends upon the number of students served and what the state believes is the ability of local communities to pay for our schools. The measure of the ability to pay is calculated based on the property valuations."

A public budget meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 26, at 6 p.m. at the Mount View Complex. The referendum vote for the proposed school budget and three Board of Directors seats will be held June 8 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the following polling locations: Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Thorndike, Troy and Unity will be voting at their respective town offices; Monroe and Waldo will be voting at their respective town halls; and Montville will vote at the Town House.

For the complete 2022 proposed school budget as presented to voters, visit tinyurl.com/xfdvxv4z.

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