Wiscasset School Committee Monday night nodded a proposed $9.35 million budget to offer voters May 16. The 6 p.m. special town meeting at Wiscasset Middle High School is residents’ chance to decide the proposal piece by piece. The budget that results goes on to a June 14 vote at the polls.
Committee members signed the warrant in the meeting in WMHS’ library and carried on Zoom. At press time, selectmen were set to sign the May 16 warrant Tuesday night, May 3.
Spending is proposed to rise $218,394, or 2.39%, from 2021-22, according to Monday’s draft. However, as with an earlier draft, the one the committee took up Monday would mean a $5,910,708 local cost, the same as in 2021-22, Interim Finance Manager Cathy Coffey said. To help achieve that, $785,026 would come out of the fund balance, she said.
So would $50,000 to put on reserve for fuel and $422,379 to cover the rest of the cost for a handicap elevator at Wiscasset Elementary School, according to officials and the draft.
Those fund balance taps and other factors, including unfilled jobs and getting more state aid in 2021-22 than was projected, put the projected fiscal year ’23 fund balance at a “very healthy” $1.1 million, Coffey said.
Superintendent of Schools Terry Wood told the committee she was very comfortable with and confident in the proposed budget. She praised Coffey, new to the job last fall, for “pick(ing) things up and just tak(ing) right off ... We’re in a good space.”
“Thank you. I appreciate the support,” Coffey said.
On the May 16 warrant, Article 1 would elect a moderator. Articles 2 through 12 would OK the committee’s spending by cost centers: Regular instruction, $3,240,453.28 for salaries and benefits, classroom supplies, equipment, books and repairs; special education instruction, $2,242,019.56 in salaries and benefits, out of district placement(s) and professional services; career and technical education for WMHS students to attend Bath Regional Career and Technical Center, $0, because the funding is coming from subsidy the state gives the center directly, officials said.
Other instruction, $244,538.28 for learning such as co-curricular and extra-curricular activities not included under other programs; student and staff support, $588,449.35 for “salaries and benefits of guidance, health, technology, and improvement of instruction, library, and student assessment”; system administration, $504,332 for salaries and benefits for the Office of Superintendent, central services and the school committee, including insurance, advertising, dues and fees, legal fees, and auditing.
School administration, $565,017 for salaries and benefits and equipment, supplies, dues and fees, and contracted services; transportation and buses, $525,430; facilities maintenance, $1,361,831.03; debt service, $0; and food service transfer, $70,000.
Articles 13 and 14 would appropriate $9,354,570 for the budget, including the $5,910,708 local assessment; Article 15, authorizes spending $9,342,070, which excludes adult education, covered under a separate article, Coffey explained; Article 16, the $12,500 for adult education; Article 17, to add a capital reserve fund for “capital improvement projects, maintenance of plant, facility upgrades and minor remodeling, emergency repairs, and capital equipment purchases, and to transfer up to $422,379.00 from (fund balance) to that reserve fund;” Article 18, to spend up to $868,750 for the WES elevator; Article 19, authorizing the committee to tap the special education reserve fund, with a current balance of $75,000, for unanticipated costs next school year.
Remaining articles would fund the proposed fuel reserve fund with the $50,000 from the fund balance; authorize spending grants and other receipts; another article is planned to state, “In addition to the amount in Article 15, shall the voters authorize the (committee) to accept and expend any state, federal, and other grants and receipts” if those do not require spending “local funds not previously appropriated.” And a final article would OK the use of any additional state subsidy.