$2 million gap

Superintendent paints bleak budget picture

By Kim Lincoln | Apr 04, 2014
Photo by: Kim Lincoln RSU 13 Interim Superintendent Michael Wilhelm, left, and Chairman Steven Roberts at a March board meeting.

Rockland — Regional School Unit 13 Interim Superintendent Michael Wilhelm told board members April 3 the district has about a $2 million budget gap as officials begin to prepare this year's spending package.

Wilhelm said there is $938,000 less in fund balance or carryover from last year, $233,000 less in state subsidy, $3,000 less in interest generated from the fund balance account, and $55,000 less in other miscellaneous revenue.

In addition, there is a 7.5 percent or $300,000 increase in health insurance for next year, he said. The district is also in contract negotiations with both teachers and administrators and the potential increase is not yet known, but could be a $450,000 increase in salaries.

"I want to make you aware as we head into creating a budget," Wilhelm told the board. "We have to be careful how we approach this."

The superintendent questioned if it was reasonable to work toward the same budget as last year, which is $27.2 million.

If that were to happen, it would mean about a $1 million increase to taxpayers across the six towns, according to information provided by the district. St. George would see the largest increase at $374,230, which is 9 percent more than last year, while South Thomaston would see the least increase at $78,181 or 3 percent.

South Thomaston representative Christine Curtis said residents in her town cannot afford any more increases.

"They are being foreclosed on, they can't pay their taxes. I just don't feel like they can bear anymore," Curtis said.

Sally Carleton, of Owls Head, agreed. She said Owls Head had a revaluation last year that caused property tax increases and she has spoken with a friend in Rockland that uses one-third of her pension to pay for taxes.

"We are going to bleed," Carleton said.

St. George representative George Emery said he does not see much "fluff" in this budget. Two planned roof projects have been postponed and no new buses are planned for this year, e said. However, the parts budget for the bus repairs will double as a result.

"This is going to be very painful, but I trust our administration is not putting in fluff," Emery said. "I hate to say it, but we have to look at raising taxes."

Chairman Steve Roberts of Rockland said the city's mil rate is obscene and people are not going to want to move to Rockland if the mil rate is almost $20.

"It will effect the economy of this region if we keep going this way," Roberts said.

The district will hold several budget workshops during the next several weeks. The schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, April 9, 6 p.m. — Article 1

Monday, April 14, 6 p.m. — Articles 2 and 4

Wednesday, April 16, 6 p.m. — Articles 5-9

Tuesday, April 22 and Wednesday, April 23 — possible public informational forums

Monday, April 28, 6 p.m. — review and possible budget adjustments

Tuesday, April 29 and Wednesday, April 30, possible public informational forums

Thursdays, May 1 or May 8, 6:30 p.m. — board meeting to adopt budget.

Courier Publications Copy Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at klincoln@villagesoup.com.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Apr 04, 2014 15:57

Anyone who is in danger of losing your home, or you have lost your home, because you CANNOT AFFORD to pay your high real estate taxes associated with RSU-13 please post on this website and maybe we can organize, and stop the home owners from being taken advantage by RSU-13.

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Apr 04, 2014 15:52

Anyone in danger of losing their home for nonpayment of real estate taxes [or you simply do have enough money to pay higher real estate taxes] because you cannot afford to pay the high real estate taxes associated with RSU-13 please post on this website and maybe we can get together, organize, and stop RSU-13 from taking advantage of us.

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Apr 04, 2014 15:42

OH NO YOU DON'T!!!!!  7.5 percent in health insurance costs!!!  OH NO YOU DON'T.  Let RSU-13 employees go onto OBAMA CARE  and pay for their health insurance out of their own pocket.  OH NO YOU DON'T!!!  NO INCREASE IN WAGES FOR EMPLOYEES OF RSU-13.  You need to FREEZE THE WAGES INSTEAD OF INCREASING THEM!!!!  GET RID OF THE UNIONS!!!! The homeowners are the only ones who can stop this and it called a TAX REVOLT but sadly most of the homeowners are so apathetic they LET RSU-13 STEAM ROLL OVER THEM.  The SOBs running RSU-13 need to get the heck out of Dodge and bring in some people who will balance a budget without increasing real estate taxes. When my monthly Rockland Tax Club amount reached $303.00 a month I decided that I will not pay one penny more [my budget will not allow me to pay more] so in June [my last payment for this year] I will be short so I guess Rockland will have to put a lien on my home and kick me out on the street.  Oh and by the way,  I do care about the children I am just sick in tired of being raped by RSU-13 and the idiots running RSU-13 because they will not make the hard choices they need to make so that the homeowners don't continue to be raped.  WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LOTTERY MONEY THAT IS SUPPOSED TO GO TO EDUCATION?

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