Madawaska residents approve school budget, elect town officials

1 month ago

MADAWASKA, Maine – Madawaska residents elected two new selectmen, two school board members, and approved a $9.5 million school budget during the election on Tuesday. 

For the select board race, Jenney M. Dionne and Michael Williams won with a respective 505 votes and 230 votes. Dionne and Williams will replace two outgoing members of the board – Chairman Richard Dionne, whose term ended this year, and Christopher Braley, who resigned earlier this year. Both will serve a three-year term.

The school board also had an election to fill two seats for a three-year term. The ballot allowed voters to select incumbent Karen Albert and to write in a second candidate. Albert was reelected with a total of 534 votes. Nicole Ayotte was also elected with 145 write-in votes. 

Residents narrowly passed the $9.5 million school budget, with 341 in favor, 292 opposed, and nine ballots left blank. 

The budget was first approved during an in-person meeting on May 28. Out of the total budget, $4,814,265 will be funded locally. This amount is $224,275 higher than last year’s locally funded total of $4,589,990.

The major factor driving this year’s school increase is a project to replace two 30-year-old boilers at the elementary school. One boiler has stopped working while the other is heating the school by itself.

And while the school budget has increased, town officials factored this number and the county taxes into an overall budget approved in early May.

Officials during that meeting said this budget could lead to a flat or even a slight reduction in the mill rate over last year. Last year’s mill rate was $25.40 per $1,000 of evaluated property. 

Interim Town Manager Dan Foster said some of the factors in creating this budget were increased revenues and surplus from the current fiscal year.

The final step in approving the school and municipal budgets will occur during Madawaska’s upcoming town meeting. Residents during this meeting will vote on budget items in addition to two ordinances during the town meeting. 

The first ordinance will define small-scale and large-scale solar power systems and determine which zones they are allowed in, while the second ordinance outlines and defines an accessory dwelling unit. These units are often located in or on the same property as a single-family residence and are designed to be occupied by one or more people living independently from the primary property owner. 

The town meeting is set for June 25 at 6 p.m. in the Madawaska High School Cafeteria on 135 7th Avenue.