RSU 20 uses subsidy windfall to lower assessments

By Ben Holbrook | Aug 10, 2017

Searsport — Directors of Regional School Unit 20 voted Aug. 8 to use additional state aid, received after the district budget was set, to lower assessments for Searsport and Stockton Springs.

The district received more than $200,000 than it anticipated after legislators added $162 million into the state budget for education funding. By law, districts receiving more money are required to use at least half of the amount to lower taxes.

Officials in RSU 20 decided, on the recommendation of the superintendent and business manager, to apply the full amount received to lowering town assessments.

Searsport will see a 0.87-percent decrease compared to the 2016-17 budget after the additional funding is applied. It was facing a 2.78-percent increase in its local share.

Stockton Springs will still see an increase in its local share, albeit a much smaller one. The town's portion of the RSU 20 bill will increase 0.14 percent, or about $3,700, rather than 3.84 percent as originally expected.

Other than lowering taxes, the board could have used a portion of the funding to add programs in the district, or it could have carried some of the balance forward for use when crafting the 2018-19 budget.

In other business:

Directors awarded a bid to Freedom Paving Group of Glenburn to pave a parking lot and sidewalk at Searsport Elementary School. The company submitted a low bid of $43,000 to pave the parking lot and $10,000 to pave about 350 feet of sidewalk.

The work is expected to begin later this month and be completed by early September.

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