The cost of consolidation outweighs its projected savings.

The law has failed to produce the projected savings, and in many cases is costing taxpayers more money. In 2007 the Maine Legislature was told that consolidation would save at least $36.5 million and it was cut from the biennial budget that also embodied the consolidation law. The net annualized savings projected from the approved reorganization plans is just over $1.6 million statewide. These savings will be offset by the cost of unifying employment contracts in subsequent years. The authors of this law ignored its impact, but individual estimates are around $18 million over three years, with built in contractual increases annually.

Examples of unintended financial consequences

  • Cost shifting that places a greater financial burden on some towns in the new district. Pownal residents saw a 25% tax increase, and for Durham it was up 19%. Alna residents' tax bills are up 33%, an average of $1000 per taxpayer, according to the Wiscasset Newspaper on Sept. 24. Their share of education expenses for RSU 12 was around 70% higher than their cost of education in the previous year before consolidation.  An offset from surplus funds reduced the increase to 60%.
  • When the preliminary numbers were released in March 2009, state subsidy losses affected over half of the new districts; for six of them the loss ranges from over $500,000 up to over $750,000. Some of the decrease is due to increase in valuation and decrease in student population, but cost shifting is also a factor.
  • Cost of unified employment contracts should have been a factor in determining legislation but was ignored. While supporters of the law claim it is not quantifiable because it will be negotiated in the future, others assume the process of collective bargaining will not result in teachers accepting pay cuts. Individual school districts have come up with estimates, and collectively they approach $18 million statewide over three years. Donaldson: "Report Card"; May 2009
  • Loss of eligibility for Federal funding programs, for example, RSU 24 will lose $600,000 to $1,000,000 in Federal money because they are now too large to qualify for this aid targeted toward smaller schools.