For the second consecutive year, Edgecomb voters will decide municipal spending through a referendum election. Selectmen opted against a traditional town meeting due to coronavirus concerns, and voters will head to the polls May 21 to decide municipal and school budgets and elect town officers. On April 6, selectmen finalized a 60-article warrant. Polls are open from 1 to 7 p.m.
The proposed combined municipal and school budget is $4,917,732, a $95,315 increase or 1.98%. The Fiscal Year 22 school budget is $3,283,589, a 0.9% decrease. Lower education spending also translates to a lower local school assessment. That decreased from $2,569,806 in Fiscal Year 21 to $2,432,378 or a 5.3% drop.
Last year, the school committee used $200,000 in surplus funds to offset local spending. This year, the committee proposed using $250,000 after discovering a larger than expected surplus. The committee originally proposed using $50,000 from surplus, but that all changed after discovering more unspent funds. On March 22, the committee alerted selectmen to a school surplus estimated at $460,000. This resulted in the committee requesting two additional articles reflecting the unexpected surplus. On March 25, selectmen and school officials reached a consensus on using the projected surplus: $70,000 remains in an undesignated account, $250,000 gets used to reduce taxes, and a $140,000 contingency fund gets used only with selectmen’s approval.
Selectmen had already approved language for a 57-article warrant, so the two new education articles and one added by selectmen will be on a separate ballot. Fifty-seven articles will be counted through an automated tabulator. The three additional articles appear on a separate ballot and will be hand counted. Selectmen added Article 60 which rescinds No. 3 which set a 7% rate on delinquent taxes. After the warrant was finalized, town officials discovered the state has a 6% limit on late taxes. Article 58 asks voters to rescind No. 53 which requested voters authorize to raise and appropriate $859,355 in additional local funds for school spending. The school committee is recommending the surplus funds being used to offset taxes increase from $50,000 to $250,000. This resulted in a $634,355 school committee recommendation to replace Article 53 with No. 58. School officials recommend spending $634,355 above the state’s Essential Programs and Services Funding Act to maintain student-teacher ratios, special education programming; extra-curricular and co-curricular programs, transportation, repairs and building maintenance.
There is more good news for local taxpayers regarding next year’s educational funding. Edgecomb is receiving 8.3% percent more in state subsidy, or $34,788. In FY 22, the town is receiving $456,211 as an educational subsidy.
The Edgecomb Eddy School Budget Guide reports teacher and educational technician salary increases, and $15,046 (1.9%); salary increases for others (principal, secretary, guidance, etc.) $31,528 (13.3%). Health insurance expenditures are forecasted to decrease by $49,602. School officials are saving $10,000 by offering cash in lieu of health insurance.
Edgecomb is spending less for total tuition for grades 7-12 and other non-Edgecomb Eddy students. Tuition costs for Edgecomb students attending other schools is down 3.6% to $1,008,635.The school is also earning tuition revenue with 12 Alna and Westport Island students attending the pre-kindergarten through grade six school (a 19.8% increase or $23,943).
The following categories include budgeted increases: transportation and buses, $23,820 (21.3%); student and staff support, $11,257 (14.6%); other instruction, $2,742 (169.3%). The other instruction increase results from a projected larger sixth grade. This year’s sixth grade had five students, next year’s has 18.
No. 28 seeks voter approval to appropriate $2,951 from the Edgecomb Waterfront Committee Fund for the harbor masters’ budget. The appropriation would designate $2,000 for the harbor master, $500 for assistant harbor master, $191 for medicare and social security, and $260 for operational expenses.
Residents will vote on four road maintenance articles. No. 29 seeks voter approval to raise and appropriate $170,322, and appropriate $29,000 from the state subsidy for the road construction and pavement payment. No. 30 seeks approval to raise and appropriate $130,090, and appropriate $190,000 from surplus for snow plowing. The article also authorizes selectmen to enter into a contract for snow plowing and related road work under terms they deem advisable
No. 31 seeks approval to raise and appropriate $67,856. for repair and maintenance of town bridges and highways. No. 32 seeks authorization to raise and appropriate $200,000 for road repairs and paving projects. No. 33 seeks approval to raise and appropriate $147,762 as Edgecomb’s share of Boothbay Region Refuse Disposal District’s operation. No. 34 seeks authorization to raise and appropriate $5,500 for planning board and ordinance review committee operations.
No. 35 is a new warrant article on social services requests. If approved, the article would require social service organizations to send a letter instead of a petition. The following non-profit organizations are seeking municipal contributions: Spectrum Generations, $1,200; Midcoast Maine Community Action, $1,000; Healthy Kids, $2,000; New Hope for Women, $1,000; and Woodchucks, $800.
All municipal elections are uncontested. Mike Smith is seeking his third term as selectman. Rebecca Graham is seeking her second planning board term and Cory Mullins is filling out an unexpired term and seeking election to his own. Nichole Price is filling out an expired term of a school committee seat. Arthur Garey is seeking election to an unexpired school committee seat. All terms are for three years.
Claudia Coffin is seeking re-election as town clerk and treasurer. Both are one-year terms. Scott Griffin is seeking another one-year term as road commissioner. Rebecca Brewer is seeking the tax collector’s one-year term.