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RSU 50 budget passes second hurdle

DYER BROOK, Maine — A small group of residents approved a $5.5 million budget for RSU 50 on May 30 at the district budget meeting.

Only 17 people came out to vote on the spending plan for the district. All of the warrant articles were approved as written.

RSU 50 Superintendent Jon Porter said at $5,507,084, the spending plan provides the district with enough money to avoid having to make difficult cuts to programs at Southern Aroostook Community School.

“It gives us the funding we need for our existing programs, but we were also very mindful to keep the amount of increase to a minimum,” Porter said. “We were able to secure some additional money from the state, which certainly helped.”

Approved by the board of directors in April, the fiscal plan is up $483,069 from last year. The actual impact to taxpayers, however, will be considerably less thanks to the increase in state subsidies.

Porter said the district will receive $2,559,520 from the state for the 2019-20 school year. That figure is up $230,654 from the current budget. In order to receive that money, the district must contribute $1,537,785 as its required local share, which is a decrease of $20,617 from the previous year. An extra $830,499 is needed in the form of “additional local” funds.

To help reduce the impact on taxpayers, the district plans to carry forward $250,000 from the current spending plan, instead of rolling those funds into the surplus account, Porter said.

District officials cited a 7-percent increase in health insurance costs as one of the factors for the increased budget. In addition, the 2019-20 budget features the first payment on the $2.5 million renovation project that took place at the school.

RSU 50 is comprised of the communities of Crystal, Dyer Brook, Hersey, Island Falls, Merrill, Oakfield and Smyrna. Residents will be asked to cast their votes for the budget when they go to the polls Tuesday, June 11, during state elections.

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