Lincoln County News | Newcastle, ME
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 140 Issue 48

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7/2/2013 3:45:00 PM
Voters Reject RSU 12 Budget
By Dominik Lobkowicz

Voters rejected Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit 12's $26.5 million budget in a referendum on June 28. In a non-binding referendum question, over 65 percent of voters said the budget was too high.

Results show voters from the district's eight towns - Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield, Windsor, and Wiscasset - rejected the budget in Article 1 with 468 votes against and 409 votes favoring the budget.

Though not all five Lincoln County towns in RSU 12 - Alna, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield, and Wiscasset - passed the budget, total votes on the budget in those towns were 348 votes for, and 260 against.

Westport Island stood out as the strongest supporter of the budget - and the highest voter turnout - with 167 for and 61 against.

All eight towns voted in favor of continuing the budget validation referendum process in Article 2, a total of 554 votes for and 313 against.

517 voters, or 65.9 percent, said the budget was 'too high.' Only 184 voters, or 23.4 percent, said the budget was 'about right,' and 84 voters, or 10.7 percent, said the budget was 'too low.'

The rejected budget was an increase of $745,559 or 2.89 percent over the current budget. Still, district officials said the budget was an attempt to limit a nearly $2 million increase to the budget needed to maintain current programming.

The increase stemmed from grant funds ending for existing programs, decreasing enrollment and a correlating decrease in state subsidy, contractual salary increases, and increased health care costs, among others, officials said.

Though the increase to the overall budget would have been 2.89 percent, the budget would have represented a $1,100,048 or 7.65 percent increase to the district's towns.

The disproportionate increase to the towns' share came because the state's share of Essential Programs and Services funding has dropped, RSU 12 Finance Committee Chairman Jerry Nault said previously.

Now that a state budget has passed, there will be revised state subsidy numbers for what RSU 12 will receive, according to new Superintendent Howard Tuttle.

Tuttle said he is certain the subsidy figure will be higher than the $90,970 reduction in subsidy, which was previously anticipated, and any restored or increased subsidy could be used for property tax relief.

Tuttle said the district's finance committee is meeting at 5:30 p.m. on July 2 at the central office in Somerville to start discussions on revising the budget. The meeting is open to the public.

It is likely a revised budget will come before the board of directors at their next meeting, Tuttle said. The board's next meeting is scheduled for June 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Palermo Consolidated School.

Voting results are as follows:

Alna - Article 1: passed (16 to 4); Article 2: passed (11 to 8); Article 3: results showed 5 said the budget about right, 7 too high, 7 too low.

Chelsea - Article 1: failed (95 to 27); Article 2: passed (77 to 43); Article 3: 13 about right, 100 too high, 6 too low.

Palermo - Article 1: failed (39 to 9); Article 2: passed (34 to 14); 34 yes; Article 3: 5 about right, 37 too high, 1 too low.

Somerville - Article 1: failed (60 to 12); Article 2: passed (42 to 31); Article 3: 9 about right, 54 too high, 1 too low.

Westport Island - Article 1: passed (167 to 61); Article 2: passed (163 to 60); and Article 3: 73 about right, 96 too high, 10 too low.

Whitefield - Article 1: failed (59 to 56); Article 2: passed (65 to 50); and Article 3: 29 about right, 57 too high, 24 too low.

Windsor - Article 1: failed (74 to 25); Article 2: passed (57 to 42). Article 3: 10 about right, 74 too high, 9 too low.

Wiscasset - Article 1: passed (97 to 76); Article 2: passed (105 to 65). Article 3: 40 about right, 92 too high, 26 too low.

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