$8.5M SAD 41 budget moved to June 29 referendum

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MILO — A proposed 2017-18 SAD 41 budget of $8,500,571 was approved with 13 of 14 articles passing over 40 minutes during the annual district budget meeting on June 19 in the cafeteria at the Penquis Valley School. The total is now moved to a referendum in the district towns of Atkinson, Brownville, LaGrange and Milo on Thursday, June 29. Citizens are asked to contact their town office for specific polling hours leading up to June 29.

“Tonight is the annual meeting and next Thursday, the 29th is the referendum,” Superintendent Michael Wright said. He said residents will be voting either “yes” or “no” on the entire $8.5 million total that was approved on Monday evening.

The $8,500,571 figure represents an increase of just over $181,500 from the current year’s budget of a little more than $8,319,000.

The combined total local contributions between the four SAD 41 communities is $2,582,104, just under $297,100 more than the year before. Atkinson’s $272,498 contribution in the proposed 2017-18 SAD 41 budget is up by $33,590, Brownville’s $730,106 share is $88,642 more than for the current year, LaGrange would see a $39,568 increase to a figure of $409,982 and for Milo the community’s share of the 2017-18 spending plan would be $1,169,517 an increase of $135,296.

In order to receive its state subsidy of $4,852,462 — a little more than $152,000 less than in the 2016-17 academic year — SAD 41 needs to raise $1,588,087. An additional $994,016 was requested from the four towns and this passed by the legally required written ballot via an 18-6 count. A sum of $321,838 more in local additional monies was being sought, and with the local required figure down by $24,740 the total local funds increase came to nearly $297,100.

The one article that was voted down at the district budget meeting asked that in the event the district receives more state education subsidy than the amount included in its budget, shall the board of directors be authorized to use all or part of the additional state subsidy to increase expenditures for school purposes in cost center categories approved by the board of directors?

Milo Selectman Peter Hamlin, who is a past member of the school board, wondered why such additional funds would not be used to reduce the contributions of the communities toward the SAD 41 budget. He made a motion that the article be amended to say that the first $200,000 in additional subsidies be given back to the tax base and then the remaining monies could be used by the school board how the directors best saw fit.

After calling the district attorney Wright said the article wording could not be changed, residents present could either vote item up or down as written. The motion ended up being voted down by 12 to 5 votes.

“It would likely involve another process like tonight and then we would go to a referendum,” Wright said about a possible scenario should more state subsidy come to SAD 41 and this money not be placed into the undesignated fund balance.

“I’m pretty sure we would talk about relieving some of the pressure on the taxpayers,” Board Chair Arthur Herbest said, as the school board would first discuss how to utilize additional monies before making any decisions.

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