The proposed $32.2 million budget for RSU 20 for the coming school year will come before voters Wednesday, June 2, in the first of a two-step approval process.

That first step, the public budget meeting, will be held at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast and will start at 7 p.m.

At that meeting, residents from the nine towns in RSU 20 will vote on 20 different budget articles. The bulk of those articles deal with how much money will be spent in specific categories of the budget — e.g., special education, school administration, transportation, etc.

Other articles deal with how much money the nine towns will raise and appropriate to support the budget, and others address how much money will be raised for adult education and the Waldo County Technical Center.

The proposed budget has a bottom line of $32,254,322, according to district officials, which is down $1,274,835 (or 3.95 percent) from last year.

Although the overall budget figure is down, the amount local taxpayers are being asked to contribute is set to go up, due to a decrease in state subsidy and an increase in state-determined local property valuations.

Overall, the amount being asked for from local taxpayers is up an average of 1.75 percent across the district for the 2010-2011 school year. While Northport and Searsport will be asked for less this coming year — down $232,704 (or 10.1 percent) and $84,080 (3.3 percent), respectively — and Belfast’s assessment has increased only slightly (about $39,000, or 0.54 percent), all other towns in the district are being asked for at least 6 percent more for the coming school year than the current one.

In Stockton Springs, the assessment is up $137,031 (6.2 percent), and in Swanville the increase is $63,634 (almost 6.3 percent). Frankfort’s assessment is up $87,954 (11.5 percent), Searsmont’s is up $159,810 (11.9 percent), Belmont’s is up $66,740 (12.5 percent) and Morrill’s is up $86,812 (nearly 15.9 percent).

Although that news is unlikely to sit well with many local taxpayers, RSU 20 Superintendent Bruce Mailloux said the local assessments are affected by the decreased state subsidies and the changes in state-determined valuations. He added that school officials did their part to lessen the impact on district residents.

“We’ve done our part — the piece we can control is the expenditure budget,” he said earlier this budget season. “We can’t control what the state says about subsidies and valuations.”

At the June 2 meeting, those in attendance will be able to approve the budget as it is presented or make changes to the financial figures if they so desire.

Whatever numbers are approved at that meeting will then be voted on by residents at the polls in their respective towns on June 8 in the second step of the process. That step, known as the budget validation referendum, consists of residents’ being asked a simple yes-or-no question: “Do you favor approving the RSU 20 budget for the upcoming year that was adopted at the public budget meeting?”

If the district-wide vote is affirmative, then the budget will be approved. If not, the budget will come back before residents at another public budget meeting and they will vote on the individual articles again. That meeting would be followed by another validation referendum, and the process would repeat as necessary until a budget is finally approved.

Also this year, voters will be asked if they want to continue the two-step budget approval process, which was ushered in along with the school consolidation law several years ago. Previously, the budget approval process consisted of just the public budget meeting.