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Lamoine Budget Committee

Minutes - April 13, 2015 (Draft, subject to correction)

Chair Robin Veysey called the meeting to order at 6:30 PM.

Present were:  Budget Committee members Robin Veysey, Marion McDevitt, Connie Bender, Cece Ohmart, Merle Bragdon; Secretary Stu Marckoon, Superintendent of Schools Katrina Kane, Lamoine School Principal Dawn McPhail, School Department business manager Carolyn Heller, School Committee members Michael Brann, Robert Pulver and Brett Jones.

Minutes – January 12, 2015 – Connie moved to approve the minutes as written.  Cece 2nd.  Vote in favor was unanimous.

School Budget – Superintendent Katrina Kane said the first year as a school department has seen Lamoine get off to a good start, thanks in part to the budget passed last year.  She praised the staff, the students, the school committee and the community.  She said the proposed budget, overall, is down 6.04%.  She said the proposed budget would increase some student support, including a part time teaching position.

Principal Dawn McPhail reviewed several budget cost centers.  She said overall regular instruction is proposed to decrease by 4.1%.  She said Special education was proposed to increase 27% due to increased resource room costs and a new Ed Tech contract.  She said out of district placements for special education students are costly, and the current year budget had no prior history to draw from to figure out the costs. 

Mrs. McPhail said the proposed speech and occupational therapy costs are based on current needs.  She said the “Other Instruction” line is up thanks to some co-curricular expanses, including an increased robotics program and drama.  She said facility and maintenance costs are also up, and improvements are planned, including new windows and exterior doors with push bars.  She said the new windows may help save some heating costs.  She said the portable classrooms need new skirting, and the rear portable needs a new ramp.

Superintendent Kane reviewed the administrative budget, which id down overall.  She said there has been a change in the cost sharing formula with Hancock.  She said it was previously based on the average number of students.  Some of the increases will be offset by the elimination of withdrawal costs. She said transportation was under budgeted for this year, mostly for special education costs.

Business Manager Carolyn Heller said the amount expected from Essential Programs and Services should increase by 16^, and the local amount needed to raise that is up by 1.55%.  She said the additional local taxation revenue will go down about 10%, and that will mean a taxation decrease.  She said the budget will utilize $150,000 in balance forward.

Merle asked about additional local allocation.  Ms. Heller explained that this year they are separating out the nutrition segment of the budget.   Merle asked about debt service.  He said he thought the town was paying about $60,000 a year for the bonds.  Ms. Heller said the repayment schedule dropped a bit.  There was a discussion about utilizing money in the education fund balance forward.  Superintendent Kane said the plan is to smooth out the budget impact on property taxes by utilizing some for the 15/16 budget and saving some for the 16/17 budget. 

Connie asked if the 15/16 budget is more stable.  Superintendent Kane said yes, far more is known about the budget than last year at this time.  She said they began building the budget in November 2014.  She said she believed they are still a year away from a solid and stable budget and she is fairly pleased.  Ms. Heller reminded the committee that until a final EPS figure is released, we won’t know the actual figure. 

Merle asked about reserves.  Ms. Heller said right now there is about $257,500 in reserve and there will be $108,000 going forward toward future years from that.  She noted they are still waiting for the tuition invoices from the Ellsworth School Department to be presented for payment.

Merle said it’s good to resolve the tax burden, but he didn’t know what surpluses will look like down the road.  He said he would like to see a little reserve going forward.   Brett Jones said the town has an education fund which is not allocated for anything in particular.  He said the school committee discussed contingency funding during the budget process.  A brief discussion followed regarding surplus funding.

Robin asked how the food service budget works.  Ms. Heller gave an explanation, saying the food service fund is rarely self-sufficient, but is considered separate from the general fund.

Merle said the staff and school committee should be applauded for lots of work on the budget.  Superintendent Kane said it was a team effort.

Stu reported that there may be enough money left following road paving to pave the school parking lot.  He said the school has also agreed to be looked at for wiring in Cable TV programming. 

Robin asked about the student population.  Principal McPhail said 14 have pre-registered for kindergarten, but the population has remained fairly steady for a few years.  A brief discussion followed about how to encourage younger families to choose to live in Lamoine.  Mrs. McPhail said things like the new recreation department are a step in the right direction, and more available rental properties might help.  Bob Pulver said an improved website would also help, and that is in the works.

Robin asked about the timing for school budget approval.  Stu said the plan was for the open town meeting on May 20, 2015 and the budget validation referendum on June 9, 2015.  A brief discussion followed on the budget approval process. 

Several in the room talked about the history of school buildings in town. 

Marion moved to recommend approval of the education budget as presented, and to thank the school committee.  Cece 2nd.  Vote in favor was 5-0.

Stu said he would gladly draft the warrant.  Ms. Heller said she would include the food service language. 

Mrs. McPhail said the last day of school is scheduled for June 20.  There was a discussion about snow days and the educational benefit of making those up.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:20 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Stu Marckoon, Secretary