Bucksport leaders attend forum on state budget cuts

HAMPDEN — At the Performing Arts Center March 4, leaders from three communities led a discussion of how the impact of Governor Paul LePage’s cuts could affect their budgets as well as hear how other communities are dealing.

This is the first time these types of communities — Bangor as a big city, Bucksport as a mill town and Guilford as a small town — have had this opportunity to discuss the challenges they each face.

Superintendent James Boothby and Town Manager Mike Brennan represented Regional School Unit 25 (RSU 25) and Bucksport, respectively, and presented the numbers they’re facing when looking at the budgets.

“For the town of Bucksport, the total impact of revenue cuts would be about $1.5 million,” Brennan said.

The bulk of that would come from the conversion from the Business Equipment Tax Exemption (BETE) program to the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement (BETR) program.

Under the BETE program, the town receives money from the Verso Paper mill from taxes on the equipment used. But the state then reimburses the mill for those taxes.

Under the BETR program, the town would no longer receive the tax money from the mill, resulting in the $1-million revenue loss.

“The RSU 25 school district faces about $1.8 million in revenue losses,” Boothby said. “Some of that does come from the town and the BETE to BETR conversion.”

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Amanda Greenberg

Former Ellsworth American reporter Amanda Greenberg joined the staff in October 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Amanda moved to Maine when she was nine.