$18,718,271 budget approved for RSU 39

12 years ago

By Barbara Scott
Staff Writer

On May 30, the citizens of Eastern Aroostook RSU 39 (Caribou, Limestone, Stockholm) attended a district budget meeting at the Caribou Middle School. At this time any and all registered voters from the three communities were encouraged to attend the meeting and vote on the RSU 39 school budget. This vote was the first of two steps in approving the budget, the second being a validation vote that will be held on June 12 at the regular polling locations in each of the three communities.

In a budget statement attached to the RSU 39 document explaining each of the warrants making up the school budget, Frank McElwain, RSU superintendent and the board of education stated, in part, “The proposed budget for 2012-13 totals $18,718,271. This represents an increase of $158,760 or 9 percent over the 2011-12 budget. The tight state budget, declining enrollments and the end of a temporary federal jobs program are major factors contributing to this year’s budget development. State revenues increased by $83,006, Medicaid funds increased by $50,000 and miscellaneous receipts increased by $45,000. Revenue received for tuition students are anticipated to decrease by $105,139 and $128,000 in revenue through the Jobs Bill program ends in 2012. The proposed budget includes a request of an additional $75,893 in local tax effort. The Board has carefully examined our expenses to reduce the impact from the loss of funding while trying to maintain programming. The budget includes reductions in staffing, including seven full-time and one part-time positions.”

The attendance at the district budget meeting was slight. Following an overview of the anticipated revenues and expense cost centers which made up the budget each warrant was brought forward for a motion to accept, followed by a second then, and a vote was taken by a show of hands either for or against the motion.

Article 14, To see what sum RSU 39 will raise and appropriate in additional local funds (recommended $559,988), which exceeds the State’s Essential Programs and Services allocation model by (recommended $220,604.76) as required to fund the budget recommended by the Board of Directors, required a written ballot. This article was accepted by a 28 ‘yes’ to 8 ‘no ‘votes.

The additional local funds are those locally raised funds over and above RSU 39’s local contribution to the total cost of funding public education from pre-K to grade 12 and local amounts raised for the annual payment on non-state funded debt service that will help achieve RSU 39 budget for educational programs.

Article 15 summarized the proposed school budget to see what sum RSU 39 will authorize the Board of Directors to expend for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012 and ending June 30, 2012. The voters approved the recommended amount of $18,781,271.

Elected as moderator for the evening meeting Robert Edgecomb of Limestone, who following the final vote addressed an individual as to why he voted against each warrant but did not bring forth any discussion. The voter commented that as a business owner concerned with rising taxes, he wasn’t there to raise his hand in favor of spending money instead of cutting costs.

Edgecomb acknowledged the comments and offered his own remarks, stating, “I just want to say that this (meeting/vote) is grassroots democracy — there are many places in the world where citizens don’t have a chance to vote their opinions, just think about what’s going on in Syria right now.”

Michael Sandstrom, a Stockholm citizen also shared his thoughts regarding the district budget meeting. “I want to commend these folks (RSU budget committee) on this budget — for getting this done with only nine tenths of one percent increase. That isn’t much in a $19 million budget.” Sandstrom said.