KENNEBUNK – Voters at an RSU 21 district budget meeting June 16 will act on a $51.5 million spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Voters will again get a say in a validation vote on July 14.

The spending plan is up by $1.4 million from the current year, budget documents show, but had been about $771,000 more until a bottom-line reduction was taken by the RSU 21 School Board on May 11.

“We listened to all stakeholders and did the best we could to meet the needs of all who are impacted,” said RSU 21 Finance Chair Ira Camp in a news release. “We ended in a place that meets the educational needs of the district and keeps us prepared as much as possible for the challenges we will likely face heading into the next school year.”

He said the district included a $350,000 contingency line that can only be used for unknown future expenses related to COVID-19 issues and any state subsidy curtailment. He said if the money is not used for either of these two intended purposes, it will not be spent.

As currently presented, the school budget would impact Arundel’s tax rate by about 49.5 cents; Kennebunk’s tax rate by 36.07 cents and Kennebunkport’s by 9.92 cents, according to figures supplied by Potenziano.

While state valuations can impact municipal tax rates, if the RSU 21 budget is approved as presented, the tax rate on a home in Arundel valued at $250,000 would increase by $123.75; in Kennebunk, by $90.18; and in Kennebunkport, by $24.80.

The figures do not include any potential impact by municipal budgets in each of the three communities.

Kennebunk assessor Daniel Robinson said offsets to the town’s project mil rate would come from any new construction added to the valuation base. Currently, Kennebunk’s tax rate is $13.75 per $1,000 of assessed value. In Arundel, the mil rate is $16.30 and in Kennebunkport, $9.45.

The original budget as presented by the RSU 21 Finance Committee included a tax increase of 4.47 percent in Arundel, 4.05 percent in Kennebunk and 3.04 percent in Kennebunkport, said Interim Superintendent Phillip Potenziano in a news release. After discussion, the school board pared the numbers, ultimately approving a budget that included a tax increase of 3.04 percent in Arundel, 2.62 percent in Kennebunk and 1.05 percent in Kennebunkport – all of which, he said, are lower than the tax increases in the current year spending plan.

There are some new positions, including a full-time nurse leader, and a full-time human resources worker. Two education technician positions have been converted to teaching positions – one each at Sea Road School and Kennebunk Elementary School. There will be a new part-time social worker at KES, a part-time bus driver, and two part-time instructional strategists, one at Middle School of the Kennebunks, and another at Kennebunk High School. A new quarter-time clerk position in the business officer has also been budgeted.

A district budget meeting has been set for 7 p.m. June 16 at Kennebunk Elementary School. The warrant articles are presented in “closed format,” which means that the voters at the district meeting can decrease the dollar amounts, but they cannot increase them, said Potenziano.

He said the district would coordinate the use of the gym and additional spaces, pending attendance, in the lunchroom, library and gathering area, to enable attendance with required social distancing.

The meeting will be livestreamed in the additional spaces and those who would like to ask a question or make a comment will be able do so by entering the gym. He said the gym itself will be capped at 45 people, which enables space for those entering from the alternative spaces for questioning purposes.

Voters will cast ballots on July 14 in each of the three communities.

School Board Chair Kendra Connor said she was pleased at the thoughtfulness of the May 11 budget discussion.

“I am confident that we approved a budget that is fiscally responsible,” said Connor in the news release. “We took into consideration the tax impact on the community, and also ensured that our staff and students will have what they need as we consider what school may look like next year due to these unusual times we are in.”

For more budget information, visit https://www.rsu21.net/2021-budget-information.

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