For many years, there was a photo that I took annually that demonstrated the lack of interest in education and taxes.

As regular as dandelions covering a field or the first blanket of snow, this photo would run in late May.

The photo was of the public hearing and vote on the then SAD 5 budget. The meeting was held in the Rockland District High School auditorium with its 500-plus seats.

But only a handful of people would be in those 500-plus seats. And most of those handful would be connected to the school system as either an employee or spouse of one. Most looked like they wanted to be anywhere else on a late spring evening.

Those days are gone.

The meetings have generated more interest in recent years.

This year it is difficult to gauge the interest. At this week’s informational meeting on the budget, only three people spoke. Of course, the meetings are now televised on the educational access cable channel so many more people could have been watching as I was.

For the budget hearing at which the public votes, however, you must be there to participate. Citizens are not allowed to make motions or vote via the cable TV system.

The meeting this year is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8 at 6 p.m. at the good ole RDHS (not Oceanside East yet) auditorium. Anyone who is a registered voter can attend. If someone has yet to register but is eligible to vote (18 years old, resides in one of the six communities and is a citizen of the United States) he or she can arrive a few minutes earlier and register.

The proposed budget this year continues to trim positions in the district although it does add a volunteer coordinator post.

The total amount of money to be spent on education in RSU 13 in the next school year is proposed at nearly $26 million. This is about 2 percent more than the amount being spent this year. The district, however, is getting more revenues and so the overall tax burden to the district as a whole is dropping slightly.

The big exception, however, is Rockland. Somehow, Rockland voters agreed to the formation of RSU 13 three years ago even though the cost-sharing formula was clearly going to hammer Rockland property owners.

There have been people from St. George who have expressed dissatisfaction with the reduction in music education at their school.

Other than that, the school budget has attracted few comments.

The vote on Wednesday comes one evening after the high school graduation. The weather this spring has been atrocious with far too little sun. So if June 8 is a sunny, warm day, don’t expect a large turnout for the budget.

But under the new system of approving budgets, the June 8 meeting is not the final word. The budget then goes to the public at the polls in each community for a simple yes or no ballot.

If it’s yes, the process is completed. If it’s no, the process begins again with the board looking at adding or cutting. Then there is another hearing, vote, polls, blah, blah, blah.

The dandelions have filled the field again but I would expect more than a handful of people at the budget vote June 8.


Maybe the poor weather has made people grumpier, including myself.

But I was a little frustrated when I went to the dump to get a second dump sticker. I got one for my 1996 Plymouth Horizon, which I have used for the past 10 years as the vehicle to shuttle trash from my house to the dump.

I went to the dump this week to get one for my 2006 Dodge Caravan. I was told I needed the number from the other sticker. I suggested just checking by names but was told they were not sorted that way.

Maybe I am too simple a person but wouldn’t it be easier to sort by name than number. Getting the number is not difficult, it just required jotting it down on paper when I got back home but for some reason this system particularly irked me.

And speaking of irked.

The city council imposes a fee on downtown businesses that place tables and chairs on city sidewalks. The fee is $15 per table. The one exception is the Brass Compass, which is required to pay $50 per table. The reason apparently is that their tables are located at a prime intersection/park.

The higher fee was imposed this year. This is at the same time that the city has commissioned a renovation project for the park/intersection.

We’re in the first week of June and the project is nearly complete but has prevented the use of outside tables because of the extent of the construction.

Oh well, summer is almost here.

Stephen Betts is associate editor. His commentary appears on Fridays.