RSU 40 budget heads to referendum vote

Voting Tuesday, June 13
By Beth A. Birmingham | May 16, 2017
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Warren Board of Selectmen Chairman Bill Lufkin motions for a $250,000 reduction to an article on the Regional School Unit 40 proposed budget during a district-wide meeting May 16.

Waldoboro — Residents served by Regional School Unit 40 had the opportunity to discuss the proposed 4.67 percent increased budget at a district-wide meeting May 16. Forty-four were in attendance.

Despite an attempt to reduce the proposed budget by $250,000, the full $26,299,247 budget was approved by residents and heads to a referendum vote June 13.

"I'd like to bring it to everyone's attention, if you already haven't realized it, that this budget is $1 million more than last year," Bill Lufkin, chairman of the Warren Board of Selectmen, said. He went on to add that last year's figure was $1 million more than the previous year.

"That's $2 million in two years -- that's a huge increase," he stated.

Lufkin said for the past three years, Warren has been struggling to maintain as low a town budget as possible so as not to hit property taxpayers too hard.

"Eighty percent of the tax dollars in Warren goes to the school," he said, "14 percent goes to running the town and 6 percent goes to running the county."

He went on to say he understands that the schools are in the same boat that the towns are regarding state funding, and -- for the second year in a row -- Lufkin proposed to amend an article asking the voters to approve a recommendation by the School Board to exceed the state's Essential Programs and Services allocation model by $482,245.

He sought to reduce the recommended $3,722,397 by $250,000. However, the motion failed by a 23-11 vote. The original article was approved by a 28-14 written ballot vote.

“The saddest part is that only 42 voters from all of the five towns made the decision to spend $26,354,248,” Lufkin said. “Just as sad is the fact that many of the School Board members didn't show up for the most important school meeting of the year.”

Of the 19 articles on the warrant, only two received unanimous approval: authorizing expenditures of grants and other sources of revenue, and raising $55,000 as the local share for adult education.

Union resident Ron Hawes served as moderator.

The Board of Directors had approved its proposed budget at an April 6 meeting.

Some of the goals of the proposed budget remain the same as last year -- maintaining current programs, progressing toward competitive wages, resolving some funding issues and moving toward closing the regional funding gap, according to Superintendent Steve Nolan.

"The challenge continues to be raising the money for it [projects]," he said.

Nolan said he appreciates the community's ongoing support for the schools. “I'm happy with the outcome of the district budget meeting and look forward to the referendum,” he said.

The adopted budget increased assessments to the district's five towns from $14,483,405 last year to $14,930,949 this year -- an increase of $447,544, or 3.09 percent -- not quite half last year's increase.

The local assessments, based on student enrollment and property valuation, by town, are as follows:

Friendship -- $1,883,748, an increase of $26,277, or 1.41 percent

Union -- $2,210,915, an increase of $14,809, or 0.67 percent

Waldoboro -- $5,302,771, an increase of $213,882, or 4.20 percent

Warren -- $3,976,858, an increase of $109,108, or 2.82 percent

Washington -- $1,556,656, an increase of $83,467, or 5.67 percent

Categories outlined in the proposed budget include:

Regular Instruction — $9,384,605, up $572,172, or 6.49 percent

Special Education — $5,014,076, up $26,695, or 0.54 percent

Career and Technical Ed — $923,095, up $60,327, or 6.99 percent

Other Instruction — $503,043, up $4,620, or 0.93 percent

Student and Staff Support — $2,303,036, up $126,094, or 5.79 percent

System Administration — $789,085, up $123,647, or 18.58 percent

School Administration — $1,867,102, up $69,688, or 3.88 percent

Transportation — $1,793,129, up $72,771, or 4.23 percent

Facilities and Maintenance — $2,413,714, up $107,559, or 4.66 percent

Debt Service — $1,233,362, down $40,761, or 3.2 percent

All Other — $75,000, up $50,000, or 200 percent

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com

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