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Budget Committee

Minutes - May 8, 2017

Budget Committee Chair Robin Veysey called the meeting to order at 6:34 PM.

Present were:  Budget Committee members Robin Veysey, Connie Bender, Merle Bragdon; Secretary Stu Marckoon, School Superintendent Katrina Kane, School Principal Dawn McPhail, School Committee members Gordon Donaldson, Brett Jones, Bob Pulver, and Special Education Director Adam Rabasca.  Budget Committee members Marion McDevitt and Cece Ohmart were not able to attend.

Minutes – December 19, 2016 – Merle moved to approve the minutes as presented.  Connie 2nd.  Vote in favor was 3-0.

Education Budget – Superintendent of Schools Katrina Kane said this is the third year of operation of the Lamoine School Department since withdrawing from RSU 24.  She said it’s a very supportive community, school board, with a good team in the building, and good parents.  She said school choice has become very desirable, and that has resulted in an influx of high school students.  She said the school had to hire three Ed Techs this year, and the proposed budget reduces one full time position.  She said the person holding the position to be cut will replace a retiring teacher next fall.

Principal Dawn McPhail reviewed the regular instruction area, noting that high school tuition is proposed to increase about $150,000.  She said with the eliminated teaching position, the increase in regular instruction is about $100,000.  Merle asked for an explanation on cost shifting and increase in tuition.  Mrs. McPhail said there are more secondary students as they are budgeting for an increase of 9 students.  She said tuition costs have increased per student as well.  Mrs. Kane noted that they have 6 secondary students that had not been budgeted for the current year.  School Committee member Gordon Donaldson said the secondary tuition estimate caused a $60,000 shortfall for the current year.

Special Education Director Adam Rabasca reviewed the Special Ed budget.  Merle asked about special education surcharges.  Mr. Rabasca explained and said the budget is increased because of the required increase in the number of Ed Techs.

Mrs. McPhail offered an explanation of the other instruction line.  She noted there is a substantial increase for instructional technology. 

Mrs. Kane explained the system and school administration lines, noting that the school department partners with the Ellsworth School Department business office.  She noted that transportation costs are lower. 

Mrs. Kane reviewed the facilities maintenance line, noting that they plan to replace some doors and construct a quiet space in the life skills room. She noted that this budget will contain the final debt service payments on the 2007/08 renovation loans. 

Mrs. Kane said the total expense budget is up 6.14%.  She said the local share to fund the school would rise by 8.65%, though the state share is up a little from the current year.  She said the school might lose some federal grant money, but it should mean the school can still provide an excellent education.  She said the K-8 portion of the budget accommodated the increased needs for special education and high school tuition. 

Mr. Donaldson noted that there has been a 30% increase in the student population in the past year.  He said that leaves the school budget in a bit of a bind.  Robin asked how many students are in the school.  Mrs. Kane said 130.  She said the population was around 100 when Lamoine withdrew from the RSU.

School Committee member Brett Jones said the staff reduction is not forever, and increased high school tuition will hit in a few years.  Merle asked about tuition at MDI High School.  Mrs. Kane said they won’t know the numbers as tuition is not set until halfway through the school year. 

Merle noted that a stipend is included in the budget for the school committee members.  He asked if that was on par with the Board of Selectmen.  Mrs. Kane said this was the first year for a school committee stipend since withdrawal.  A brief discussion followed.

Education Reserves – Mrs. Kane explained that articles 16-18 were designed to set up reserve accounts for special education, secondary tuition, and facilities maintenance.  She said a sizable fund balance as a result of withdrawal had occurred and instead of using that entire amount as a revenue, they had to designate $312,884 in reserve accounts. She said that will help avoid significant budget fluctuation in the future.  She said article 17 is now proposed at $35,000 and article 18 at $127,884.  She said the school committee would have to receive town meeting approval to expend money from those funds.  She said that would leave the school department roughly $72,000 in undesignated education funds.  She said the budget has gotten tighter as the school knows better what the expenses are.

Robin said the school has a good reputation and that means more students.  Merle asked if there is enough money for supplies so teachers do not have to purchase their own.  Mrs. Kane said no teacher requests were reduced in the budget, but they did have to cut the one position. 

Connie asked what the maximum school capacity was.  Mrs. Kane said there was a study done, and she estimated there could be up to 150-students in the next 10 years.  She said a Department of Education report gave the capacity at 200, but that is outdated as several programs that exist now did not when the study was done.  She said the school department has submitted a capital renewal application.  She said the middle school program needs more room, and they would like to get out of the portable classrooms, as well as adding meeting space and enlarging the gym area. 

Mr. Jones noted that the additional tuition payment to MDI High School will likely be gone in a few years. 

Merle moved to recommend the amounts in the draft warrant for articles 2 through 16.  Connie 2nd.  Vote in favor was 3-0.

Connie moved to recommend $35,000 for article 17.  Merle 2nd.  Vote in favor was 3-0.

Merle moved to recommend $127,884 for article 18.  Connie 2nd.  Vote in favor was 3-0.

Major Roads Budget – Merle said the town should pave the roads as originally proposed and increase the budget that had been erroneously calculated.  Stu reported that excise tax collections as budgeted for 2016/17 were met as of earlier in the day, and there will be a significant positive impact on the fund balance as a result.  Merle moved to recommend that the major roads budget increase by $84,250, appropriating $72,000 from the road fund and $12,250 from undesignated fund balance.  Connie 2nd.  Vote in favor was 3-0.

PERC Put Order – A very brief discussion followed about the article to exercise the option to have PERC buy out Lamoine’s Share. 

It was noted that the town meeting for the school budget and other articles is scheduled for May 31, 2017 at the Lamoine School Gym.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:22 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Stu Marckoon, Secretary