Three business days before its scheduled budget referendum, Regional School Unit 3 received an objection that its preliminary budget vote was illegal because the moderator failed to obtain a motion and a second before proceeding to a vote on the article authorizing the district to raise funds locally.

A video of the May 24 public budget meeting on YouTube shows the error. One hour and 49 minutes into the video, Moderator Ron Price can be seen introducing Article 14 by saying “We’re going to get this on the floor and then you will to be asked to go to your respective town clerks and cast your ballot.” He then reads the article, asking for authorization for the district to raise $1.9 million locally, and immediately asks if everyone understands and if there is any discussion.

“Hearing none, we will now move on to a vote,” he said, and the attendees cast their written ballots. For the previous articles, Price had been asking for motions and seconds before calling for a vote.

A perceptive attendee, who did not wish to be named, noticed the omission when reviewing the video and notified Superintendent Paul Austin June 8. The attendee was concerned that without a legal preliminary vote, the referendum vote scheduled for June 13 would be invalid as well.

Austin said the district’s lawyers, Drummond Woodsum of Portland, reviewed the individual’s objection and the meeting footage and concluded that the vote was legal because the objection was not made during the meeting.

“It is not alleged nor do the facts suggest that any confusion existed at the meeting as to the article or the dollar amount the moderator placed on the floor for debate and action,” the lawyers wrote in a letter to Austin. “An objection to the lack of a motion and a second is procedural in nature. Under Maine law, at least in these circumstances, an objection on these grounds is waived if not made at the meeting."

The letter concluded, "We advise that the budget validation referendum on June 13 is unaffected and that the referendum should proceed as scheduled."

The RSU 3 towns of Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo are scheduled to vote on the $20.65 million budget for fiscal year 2017-2018 on Tuesday.