TOPSHAM — Voters in School Administrative District 75 and Regional School Unit 1 approved budgets Tuesday for fiscal year 2020.

The four SAD 75 communities adopted the $42.1 million spending plan, 1,064 to 568. The budget passed 519-301 in Topsham, where voter turnout was 10.7%. It was also approved 197-126 in Harpswell, 123-53 in Bowdoin and 225-88 in Bowdoinham, according to unofficial results.

That support came despite turbulent teacher salary negotiations between the School Board and Merrymeeting Teachers Association, which have forced third-party mediation.

The budget as adopted by the School Board in April already included $500,000 as a placeholder for teacher raises, and nearly $28,000 for retirement and Medicare costs. But that would only mean an average $1,800 raise for each teacher, according to Nicole Karod, president-elect of the teachers’ union.

More than 350 voters who attended a May 23 SAD 75 district budget meeting approved adding $600,000 to next year’s spending plan for teacher pay increases.

The amendments raised the budget to $42.1 million and could result in an 11% tax increase on SAD 75’s four member towns.

As approved, the budget requires a $190 annual tax increase on a typical $209,000 Topsham home, and a $253 hike on a $434,000 Harpswell home, according to SAD 75 Business Manager Mark Conrad. Owners of homes assessed at $117,600 and $180,000 in Bowdoin and Bowdoinham would see respective increases of $161 and $224.

Voters were also asked whether to continue the budget validation referendum process another three years. That measure passed 597-210 in Topsham, 223-83 in Harpswell, 132-41 in Bowdoin and 227-79 in Bowdoinham.

RSU 1 budget

The RSU 1 budget of $33.9 million passed 230-51. It is up $3.8 million, or 12.55%, from this year due largely to $3.4 million in debt service toward the construction of a new Morse High School.

That spending plan was greenlit 124-23 in Bath, which had 2.1% voter turnout. It also passed 22-0 in Arrowsic, 29-4 in Phippsburg and 55-24 in Woolwich.

“We’re very pleased that we have the support of the communities,” RSU 1 Finance Director Debra Clark said Wednesday.

All four communities also supported continuation of the referendum process: 96-49 in Bath, 11-9 in Arrowsic, 19-14 in Phippsburg and 57-23 in Woolwich.

Offsetting expenditures is $13.1 million in state subsidy, which includes $2.3 million toward debt service. With all revenues subtracted, the remaining $18.7 million will be assessed to the RSU 1 communities – a 2.28% increase.

Voters at a May 28 district budget meeting added two amounts to the spending plan: more than $118,800 for the Bath Career and Technical Center, which RSU 1 administrators expect to be matched by state funding, and $50,000 for a full-time social worker at Woolwich Central School.

Of the $18.7 million to be assessed to RSU 1’s four communities, Bath would be taxed $10.7 million, an increase of 2.84%; Arrowsic $494,000, down 10.11%; Phippsburg nearly $3 million, up 0.17%, and Woolwich $4.4 million, up 3.99%.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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