The city is looking at inviting a consultant to a future council meeting to discuss what information would be valuable regarding an analysis of potential withdrawal options for Belfast.

City Manager Joseph Slocum made a late addition to the council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 1, to discuss inviting a consultant to a council meeting.

Residents in Belfast voted in favor of restarting the withdrawal process after a successful vote during a special referendum Aug. 20.

Slocum said by inviting the consultant to a meeting, it would give officials the opportunity to establish parameters for what information is needed to assess the city's options for withdrawing from Regional School Unit 20.

Councilor Eric Sanders praised the idea of inviting a consultant to a meeting and urged the city to move forward with its withdrawal efforts.

Councilor Nancy Hamilton also supported the idea of inviting a consultant to a future meeting, but asked that it be made clear to the person who is invited to help the city create the parameters of its withdrawal analysis they may not be the one selected to do the analysis.

Before concluding discussion about the consultant, Councilor Roger Lee said he would like to hear public input from people who have expertise in the area of education.

Slocum noted the city would most likely have to pay the consultant a small sum to have them attend a future council meeting.

In addition to discussion about the consultant, councilors were also updated on a statement of reasons for withdrawing that Slocum submitted to the state.

Slocum outlined the reasons to withdraw from RSU 20. According to the letter, those reasons include the district's 18-member school board having difficulty with resolving problems; decision-making gridlock; and financial inequity within the district.

The reasons to withdraw as outlined in Slocum's letter were previously approved by the council when the city was working through its first withdrawal attempt. Slocum notes the statement of reasons was updated to reflect the new teacher contracts and the increase in the city's share of the school taxes.

Belfast is paying an additional $867,000 in school taxes this year.

Councilor Mike Hurley said he read over the statement of reasons as to why the city is looking to withdraw from RSU20 and said he feels it is okay, but that the reasons to leave the district have expanded since the first withdrawal attempt. Hurley then asked Slocum if he felt the reasons outlined in the letter were sufficient, to which Slocum responded that he felt they were.

Once the state responds to the city's letter outlining the reasons why it is seeking to withdraw from RSU 20, a withdrawal committee will be formed.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.