Top Stories

School budgets in southern Aroostook area receive overwhelming support at polls

Voters gave their overwhelming support to four local school budgets at the polls Tuesday.

Spending plans for RSU 89 (Katahdin), SAD 70 (Hodgdon), RSU 29 (Houlton) and RSU 50 (Southern Aroostook) all met with voter approval during the June 12 election.

RSU 50

The communities of Dyer Brook, Island Falls, Oakfield, Smyrna, Merrill, Hersey and Crystal gave their support to a $5,024,735 budget  for the 2018-19 school year.

“The budget passed by an impressive margin,” Superintendent Todd LeRoy said. “Good news first thing in the morning is always good.”

The $5,024,735 budget for RSU 50 passed 299 in favor and 166 opposed, with all seven communities that make up RSU 50 approving the budget. A breakdown by community shows: Dyer Brook, 38 in favor, 25 opposed; Crystal, 23 in favor, 18 opposed; Hersey, nine in favor, one opposed; Island Falls, 95 in favor, 64 opposed; Merrill, 26 in favor, 11 opposed; Oakfield, 81 in favor, 30 opposed; and Smyrna, 27 in favor, 17 opposed.

RSU 50 will receive $2,328,866 in state funds, provided the communities contribute $1,558,402 in local funds. Because the district’s budget exceeds the state and local amounts determined by the state’s essential programs and services formula, an extra $788,876 is needed from “additional local” funds.

RSU 89

The first RSU 89 budget passed with a 64 percent overall approval rating for the member communities of Stacyville, Patten, Sherman and Mount Chase. The $4,673,395 spending plan represents an increase of $358,331 for taxpayers in those municipalities.

A total of 407 residents voted in favor of the budget, with 230 opposed. Sherman was the only community where the overall vote was against the budget.

A breakdown by community reveals — Mount Chase: 55 in favor, three opposed; Patten: 173 in favor, 49 opposed; Sherman: 113 in favor, 130 opposed; and Stacyville: 66 in favor and 48 opposed.

The district will receive $2,205,638 from the state, which is down from last year due to declining enrollments. There are an estimated 333 students in grades pre-K to 12 in the Katahdin school district, as of the April 1 enrollment count.

To receive that state subsidy, the district must provide a required local contribution of $1,110,959. In addition, to balance the budget, taxpayers also must come up with $827,159 in “additional local” dollars.

“We are truly excited about our future,” RSU 89 board chairman Jon Ellis said. “This was) the last major hurdle.”

RSU 29

While the district has yet to receiving voting tallies from the town of Hammond, enough voters from the other member communities have approved RSU 29’s $14 million spending plan for 2018-19 to declare it has passed.

As of Wednesday morning, the fiscal plan had 698 votes in favor, with just 192 opposed. There are not enough registered voters in Hammond to change the outcome of the budget.

A breakdown by community shows Houlton supported the budget with 498 in favor and 127 opposed; Littleton, 111 in favor and 24 opposed; and Monticello, 89 in favor and 41 opposed.

The $13,986,075 spending plan represents an estimated 5.57 percent increase over the current budget. The district expects to receive an additional $1,032,830 from the state next year, bringing the total state contribution to $10,206,228. However, the district will need to come up with more money at the local level ($3,366,131) in order to receive those state funds. The required local amount for 2018-19 is an increase of $89,370 from this year.

The tax implications for each of the four towns is as follows: Houlton, $2,464.283; Hammond, $65,526; Littleton, $453,370; and Monticello $382,950.

SAD 70

Voters from Amity, Haynesville, Hodgdon, Linneus, Ludlow and New Limerick gave overwhelming support to a $6,480,159 fiscal plan with 423 in favor and 86 opposed. That amount is down $144,544 from last year, but the impact to most taxpayers will still be a slight increase.

According to  Superintendent Scott Richardson, SAD 70 will receive $3,098,304 from the state, which is a decrease of $150,354 from previous years. In order to receive those funds, the district must raise $1,852,654 in required local dollars, plus an extra $658,900 in additional local funds to balance the budget.

A breakdown of the vote by community shows: Amity, 24 in favor, 12 opposed; Haynesville, 15 in favor, seven opposed; Hodgdon, 172 in favor, 18 opposed; Linneus, 87 in favor, 19 opposed; Ludlow, 36 in favor, 18 opposed; and New Limerick, 89 in favor, 12 opposed.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.