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SAD 70 tweaks budget following additional state funding

HODGDON, Maine — The SAD 70 school board approved a revised budget on Monday after the district learned it would receive a bit more money from the state.

Holding its first in-person meeting since the outbreak of COVID-19 back in March, board members were spaced around the Hodgdon Mill Pond gymnasium to ensure safe distancing practices were observed. Board members and guests were provided with masks, if they desired to wear them.

At $7,123,407, the total school budget is an increase of $486,917 over the current fiscal year. The good news for residents is that the actual impact to taxpayers will be less. The board initially approved its budget in May, but recently learned it would receive slightly more money from the state.

“We received notification that we were receiving $3,600 more from the state,” SAD 70 Superintendent Stephen Fitzpatrick said. “So we have deducted that amount from the local [tax] expectation.”

The district will receive $3,425,742 in state subsidy, which represents an increase of $215,517 over the current budget. In order to receive those funds, the district must raise $1,917081 for its local share of the budget. That figure is up $28,562. 

Because the district is spending above what the state says it should be for Essential Programs and Services, residents must also contribute $471,518 in additional local funds to help balance the budget. 

SAD 70 plans to use a carryover — money budgeted in 2019-20 that was not spent — of $675,000 to help mitigate the impact to taxpayers.  

Like many other school districts, teacher salaries are the driving force in the increased budget. Teacher salaries are up $47,093, while benefits/insurance is up $30,214. In addition, the district plans to spend an additional $41,000 for new textbooks.

Funds will also be raised for paving the high school parking lot and widening the girls soccer field to make it regulation-size.

Of the six communities that make up SAD 70, three will see their share of the budget increase next year based on valuation. New Limerick residents will pay $715,275, which is an increase of $428, while Haynesville will pay $112,183, an increase of $2,230 and Linneus must pay $685,638, an increase of $2,800.

The remaining three communities will see a decrease in local tax dollars needed — Amity, $149,968 (down $4,343); Hodgdon, $599,871 (down $14,632); and Ludlow, $235,234 (down $7,793).

Voters will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, June 29, at the Hodgdon Middle-High School gymnasium to discuss and vote on the plan. Voters will also cast final ballots for the budget during the special July 14 primary referendum elections.

The Houlton Pioneer Times previously reported the total budget was $6,823,407, based on information provided by the district. Those numbers, however, were not correct.

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