Heads to polls June 12

RSU 40 budget approved at district-wide meeting

By Beth A. Birmingham | May 16, 2018
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Union Town Manager Jay Feyler addresses the RSU 40 Board of Directors during the district-wide budget meeting May 15 at Medomak Valley High School.

Waldoboro — It took just over an hour -- and a bit -- for 122 residents from the five towns served by Regional School Unit 40 to approve the proposed 2019 amended budget of $27,627,033 at a district-wide meeting May 15.

After nearly an hour's delay in starting the meeting because there was no clerk present to receive Warren voters, Union resident Ron Hawes was named moderator and assumed the duties at hand.

Cuts to the budget were attempted three times. Jim Letteney of Waldoboro proposed decreasing special education expenses by $483,343 and student and staff support by $293,607, both seconded by Board Chairman Danny Jackson, but both failing to be backed by voters.

Jackson, along with board members Lynda Letteney and Melvin Williams, had opposed the amended budget at the Board of Directors' meeting April 5.

The third amendment was proposed by Union Select Board Chairman Greg Grotton, who recommended taking $295,527.93 from the additional $4,251,860.34 sought by the board in excess of the state-determined Essential Programs and Services.

"The amount represents 50 percent of the additional state subsidies that were meant to be returned to the towns," Grotton said.

He was speaking of the $590,527 in extra state subsidy the district received last year, which the five towns requested be returned to them to help reduce taxes. However, as there was no warrant article making said request, according to Business Manager Karla Miller, the money stayed with the school district.

Union Town Manager Jay Feyler also supported Grotton's proposal.

Feyler, who serves on the Maine Municipal Association's Legislative Policy Committee, said the intent of the subsidy was for tax relief to the municipalities.

The amendment failed by a 40-73 vote and the original amount was approved 88-32.

The $27,627,033 budget includes restoring funding for literacy and special education from previously proposed cuts, and represents an increase of $1,327,786, or 5.05 percent, from last year.

The adopted budget increased assessments to the district's five towns from $14,930,949 last year to $16,614,467 this year -- an increase of $1,683,518, or 11.28 percent -- more than triple the increase from last year.

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

Friendship -- $2,056,245, an increase of $172,191, or 9.14 percent

Union -- $2,424,637, an increase of $213,688, or 9.67 percent

Waldoboro -- $5,901,364, an increase of $598,684, or 11.29 percent

Warren -- $4,521,762, an increase of $544,950, or 13.70 percent

Washington -- $1,710,459, an increase of $154,005, or 9.89 percent

The budget now heads to the polls for a referendum vote Tuesday, June 12.

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

RSU 40 budget approved at district-wide meeting
Waldoboro Town Clerk Eileen Dondlinger, left, attempts to help Warren residents in getting checked in after a delay at the RSU 40 district budget meeting May 15. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Voters place their written ballots in the box as moderator Ron Hawes, left, observes at the RSU 40 district budget meeting May 15. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
RSU 40 Board Chairman Danny Jackson, left, and member Sandra O'Farrell vote in opposition to expending $5,785,813 on special education during the district budget meeting May 15. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
A hand count is conducted by moderator Ron Hawes, center, during the RSU 40 district budget meeting May 15. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
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