High school costs up some; town assessments up more

BAR HARBOR — The $11.99 million budget for Mount Desert Island High School for next year is, technically, 5.98 percent higher than the current year’s budget.

That is somewhat misleading, though, because the budget calls for the school to spend $350,000 for an electric bus to replace an old diesel-powered bus. Of that cost, $280,000 will be covered by funds the state has received from the Volkswagen emissions fraud settlement leaving only $70,000 to be paid by the school.

That is the good news.

The less good news for taxpayers in the four MDI towns is that the amount the towns will be assessed for operating the high school will increase by a total of $759,614, or 9.4 percent.

A significant portion of that increase is due to the projected reduction of about $364,000 in funds to be carried over from this year to next.

Bar Harbor will see its assessment go up 11.03 percent, which will increase property tax bills by $22.94 per $100,000 of valuation.

Mount Desert’s assessment will increase 9.37 percent, adding $13.04 in taxes per $100,000.

Tremont’s assessment is set to rise 9.22 percent, raising taxes by $17.97.

Southwest Harbor will see the smallest assessment increase, 4.85 percent, which will add $9.28 to the tax bill for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

The formula by which the assessments are calculated puts twice as much weight on each town’s total property value as on the percentage of students each town has enrolled at the high school.

For next year, Principal Matt Haney anticipates the high school will have 532 students and that 25 percent of those will live in non-MDI towns. That means their hometowns will pay tuition of $12,899 for each of them to attend MDI High, bringing the school’s total tuition revenue to $1.65 million.

Most tuition students live in Trenton, Hancock and Lamoine.

The high school board has voted to adopt next year’s high school budget, but registered voters in the four MDI towns will be asked to approve it at a meeting at the school April 1.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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