SAD 6 cost-sharing stays same for Frye Island

From left, Gary Donohue, James Moses and Jake Stoddard at a meeting of members of the Frye Island Board of Selectmen and the School Administrative District 6 Board of Directors in May. Members of the district's cost share committee rejected a proposed change to the cost-share formula, ending discussions of re-distributing costs for each of the district's five towns. 

The cost share committee for School Administrative District 6 last week rejected a proposal that would have provided fiscal “relief” to Frye Island, ending the cost-share negotiation process taken up a month ago in accordance with the state’s guidelines.

At the second committee meeting, held Oct. 18, members voted 10-3 to reject a facilitator’s recommendation and favored a second motion to make no changes to the district’s cost share formula. The district will continue to split costs based on property valuation.

Of the 15 committee members, Michael Delcourt of Standish, Ansel Stevens of Buxton and Cullen Raymond of Limington voted in favor of the first motion, which would have brought the proposal before voters in the district. Betsy Gleysteen of Frye Island and Deb Black of Limington were absent.

The second motion, to leave the district’s cost-share formula as-is, was passed 11-2. Gary Donohue, town manager of Frye Island, and Jim Moses, Frye Island’s representative to the School Board, voted against the second motion.

The recommendation of the facilitator was to share the district’s additional local funds (funds for non-essential services, as determined by the state) on the basis of valuation and the number of pupils in the school. The facilitator recommended determining the cost to each district by 70 percent valuation and 30 percent pupil ratio, providing cost savings for Frye Island, which does not have students in the district.

Required local funds (for essential services) would have continued to be shared based entirely on valuation.

In fiscal year 2017, this proposal would have saved Frye Island roughly $80,000, and Standish $30,000. Taxes would likely have increased for residents of Buxton, Hollis and Limington.

The facilitator recommended this change be implemented in fiscal year 2020.

A vote in favor of the proposal would have meant residents in all four towns had to vote on whether or not to implement the changes.

Donohue, town manager of Frye Island, voted against the facilitator’s proposal, which provided “very little relief” to Frye Island financially, he said. Moses also voted against the proposal.

Donohue said he would be researching other options “that can make Frye Island sustainable.” Residents of Frye Island have said steep increases in their taxes are making life on the island “unsustainable.”

Donohue said the island town supports of education, and he is seeking a solution that gives tax relief to island residents without “creating a burden to the other towns.”

Greg Sirpis, Standish Town Councilor and member of the cost share committee, said Monday he voted against the proposal because he did not believe it was “fair and equitable” to the other four towns in the district.

He asked how he could “tell the people of Standish I voted to lower their Frye Island’s taxes, if I can’t lower their taxes.” Summer residents of Standish pay tax to the schools despite not having any students enrolled, he said.

Sirpis voted in favor of leaving the cost share formula as-is.

From left, Gary Donohue, James Moses and Jake Stoddard at a meeting of members of the Frye Island Board of Selectmen and the School Administrative District 6 Board of Directors in May. Members of the district’s cost share committee rejected a proposed change to the cost-share formula, ending discussions of re-distributing costs for each of the district’s five towns.