RSU 20 voters pass proposed $35.5M budget
Belfast — Residents in the Regional School Unit 20 towns passed the 2014-15 school budget proposal totaling $35,565,772.35 at the polls Tuesday, June 10.
The total vote of the eight district towns had voters approving the RSU 20 budget 1,209 in favor to 808 against.
Belfast voters passed the budget by a more than 2-1 margin, voting 513 in favor of the school budget to 243 against. Searsport passed the budget by a narrower margin, 148 in favor to 117 against. Stockton Springs had a close vote of 138 in favor of the RSU 20 budget to 131 against. Northport voted 155 in favor to 103 against. Searsmont voters approved the budget 97 in favor to 75 opposed. Swanville voted 66 in favor of passing the budget to 55 against; Belmont voted 42 in favor to 26 against. Morrill voted against the RSU 20 budget with 58 against and 50 in favor.
The vote finalizes the budget for the upcoming school year, as it followed the May 29 district- wide validation meeting at Troy Howard Middle School, at which time about 90 voters turned out and approved the figure as proposed.
The $35.5 million budget represents a 6.5-percent overall budget increase, with an average increase in town assessments coming in at 7.32 percent.
In a letter RSU 20 Superintendent Brian Carpenter drafted in advance of the validation meeting, he explained the proposed figure of $35.5 million reflects the return of some items that were cut from last year's budget such as supplies and middle school level co-and extra-curricular stipends. The district also saw a 9.5 percent increase in health insurance costs — a portion of which will be paid by district employees — and a 6.5 percent jump in the cost of property insurance.
Carpenter said the finance committee had initially returned a second bus run for students residing in the former School Administrative District 56 towns, but in an effort to offset the loss of revenue and increased costs, the committee opted to pull that item out of the proposal before taking the package to the full board for approval. In addition, the committee reduced the contingency line, which gave the district a total savings of more than $400,000.
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Tanya has been a general news reporter in Waldo County since 1997.
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