Sunday, March 9, 2014
By Michael Shepherd firstname.lastname@example.org
State House Bureau
(Continued from page 3)
School administrators across Maine may have to revisit their spending plans, and some may even have to hold a second round of budget-validation referendums later this summer.
The impact is going to vary from town to town, depending on whether school districts underestimated or oversestimated the amount of state money they will receive.
On one hand, the bipartisan budget approved June 27 allocated $19 million more than expected in general purpose aid for education next year.
The additional education money, however, was paired with an added burden to towns. The budget shifts teacher retirement costs previously paid for by the state onto local school district budgets. The net effect will vary from district to district, and depends on whether administrators banked on paying the future retirement costs when they built their budgets.
But whether they are getting more than expected or less, districts that are forced to amend their budgets may have to hold a second round of budget referendum votes, as required by state law.
However, lawmakers saw that problem coming and gave initial apporval to a bill last week to allow school districts -- for this year only -- to amend their budgets without new town-wide votes. That bill had not been enacted or signed by the governor as of Friday, however, and some expect it to be vetoed.
Cities and towns are less than eager to spend money on a second round of referendum votes.
"It costs us anywhere from $13,000 to $14,000 to put on a referendum," said Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, who is hoping the one-time referendum exemption passes.
Herman, of the Maine Municipal Association, said multi-town districts will likely handle the situation differently from municipal school systems such as Portland and Lewiston, which may have more incentive to reopen the budgets and move money around.
Multi-town districts, meanwhile, may opt to divert any unexpected influx of cash into a fund to be used next year, Herman said.
Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 370-7652 or at:
Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at: