FREEPORT — Voters in Freeport, Pownal and Durham approved the $34.1 million Regional School Unit 5 budget Tuesday, with 553 votes in favor and 266 against. The 2020 budget reflects a $1 million, or 3.43%, spending increase over 2019.

In Freeport, the spending plan was passed 333-98. In Pownal, 135 voted in favor and 96 against. It was closer in Durham, with 85 in support and 72 against.

The budget carries a net tax impact of 4.15% district-wide, a $26.8 million commitment, up from $25.7 million.

According to current estimates, which are based on current year’s value and revenue, Freeport, which is responsible for about 66% of the cost, will see a 2.68% increase on the school portion of it’s tax bill, meaning that taxes on a home valued at $200,000 would increase by $80.

In Durham, which has the second highest share of the budget at 21%, taxes will increase by 3%. A home valued at $200,000 will see a tax bill of $4,058, an increase of $178 from last year for the school portion.

Pownal, which is responsible for just over 12% of the overall school budget, will increase taxes by 2.86%, and a $200,000 home will pay $3,702 this year, compared to $3,600 last year.

Factors driving the increase include hiring a full-time special education teacher and full-time special education educational technician at Mast Landing School and a full-time teacher at Morse Street School. Two new full-time educational technicians are included, as well as a part-time ed tech at Morse Street School, Mast Landing School, and Pownal Elementary School, The Forecaster reported this spring. The projected enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year is 1,993 students, up from 1,846 students in 2015-2016.

Other line items responsible for the increase are facilities and transportation, including an additional van, van driver and bus aide due to an increase in specialized transportation needs for students with disabilities, according to the Forecaster.

Pownal also elected Andrew O’Brien as town assessor with 107 of the 239 votes.

Races for RSU 5 Board of Directors and Cemetery Commissioner were uncontested, and Elisabeth Munsen and Craig Vosmus were elected to the respective positions.

Final tax impacts will not be ironed out until the local towns have determined their budgets.

The town of Pownal is expected to vote on budget warrant articles Monday, but officials were not available for comment on the budget Wednesday.

Freeport’s proposed $10,393,312 municipal budget carries a 2.39% tax increase on its own and a possible 3.65% increase when combined with the school and county budgets. Town officials will vote Tuesday. 

Durham town offices were closed on Wednesday and information on the impact to taxes was not immediately available.

All three towns voted to continue the referendum process, which requires voters to approve the school board’s proposed budget at the polls before it can be adopted, for the next three years.

[email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: