AUGUSTA – School districts in the Augusta area plan to use the additional funding they are set to receive as a result of an error by the state Department of Education to lessen the amount of their budgets taxpayers must shoulder. Local officials said at this point they are not seeking to revive scrapped spending proposals or bring new ones to the table in light of the windfall.

The agency has said the error — which brings a total of $42 million to districts across the state stemmed from a mistake in the data used to calculate the funding allocations for each district.  

The news came as a surprise, and a relief, to many officials in the central Maine, as most struggled with building budgets this year that would have as little impact on municipalities as possible. Districts in the capital area will receive anywhere from $97,000 in Richmond to $561,984 in Augusta.  

The Augusta Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to use the roughly half-million dollars it gained to decrease the amount of money it must ask taxpayers to contribute. 

“It takes the amount we will ask from taxation and reduces it by $561,984, and in essence, it reduces the ask from the city by $200,000 less than we had last year,” Superintendent Jim Anastasio said at the board meeting.

The city of Augusta’s fiscal year budget is typically approved in June, and the Augusta Board of Education is the only school board in the Augusta area that has already approved its proposed budget for 2023-24. Other districts will finalize their budgets and send them to municipal officials for approval mid-April. Residents must then approve the spending plans at the polls in May or June.


School boards are expected to have further conversations about the additional money in the upcoming week at their regularly scheduled meetings.

The $36.6 million school budget the Augusta Board of Education recently approved asks the city to raise $12.2 million, factoring in the additional funds from the state Department of Education.

It is too early to know how the new school funding will specifically affect individuals’ tax bills. Last year, Augusta raised property taxes for the first time in five years, passing a $72.6 million budget for the city and its schools that added $125 to the tax bill for the owner of an average home in Augusta valued at $128,000.

Over in the Gardiner-area Maine School Administrative District 11, the additional $338,042 that district received from the state will be used to reduce the overall increase to the local contribution to a 16% increase from last year. With the additional funds factored in, the amount of money Gardiner, West Gardiner, Randolph and Pittston are expected to raise is $12,602,261, up from last year’s ask of $10,864,972.

MSAD 11’s proposed total budget sits at $30,432,597, an increase of 7.8%, or $2,210,597 from last year. The proposal is not finalized, as school officials are waiting for the health insurance rate to be announced in April and a bus contract to be finalized before the budget numbers are set in stone. If the budget stays the same, the increase to the tax rates would rely on each municipality’s education mil rate, which is the amount of the school budget divided by the taxable valuation of the municipality.

“As we compare to other communities, it’s good to keep in mind the valuation the state uses for (its funding formula) is the three-year average and then the lesser of the two,” said Andrea Dish, MSAD 11 business manager at a finance meeting Tuesday.


In Gardiner, for example, the city’s property tax rate is $22.20 per $1,000 of assessed value, and 49% of that goes toward education. With the new funds added in, the proposed school budget would increase the city’s tax rate by $1.67 per $1,000 of assessed value.

For a house in Gardiner valued at $250,000, that equates to a $418 increase in taxes.

The other municipalities in MSAD 11 would see similar increases as Gardiner, with the exception of West Gardiner, which would have the lowest education-related tax increase, of $1.22 per $1,000 assessed value. This equates to an increase of $304 on a tax bill for a house in that town valued at $250,000.

Officials in MSAD 11 will continue to work on the district’s budget at the upcoming school board meeting April 6 and the final impact on the tax rate will rely on the municipal and county budgets.

Winthrop’s school committee said Wednesday the additional $216,205 that district is set to receive also will be used to lessen the local portion of the budget. The school committee is expected to vote to approve the budget for that district on April 5.

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