April 23, 2018
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Revised SAD 1 budget set for hearing

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Three weeks after voters rejected the proposed SAD 1 2009-10 school budget, the school board has offered taxpayers a stripped-down budget that Superintendent Gehrig Johnson hopes will secure voter approval.

Referendum voting on the new budget will take place Tuesday, June 30.

On June 9, a small turnout of district voters opposed the district’s nearly $23 million budget by a vote of 282-160.

That vote came after the budget was approved by a huge margin at the district budget hearing just a short time before the referendum.

The district consists of Presque Isle, Castle Hill, Chapman, Mapleton and Westfield.

Of the 9,600 registered voters in the district, only 3 percent of those voted on June 9.

Soon after, Superintendent Gehrig Johnson and the board met and revamped the budget, slashing it by $419,672.

Johnson said Friday that the new $22.7 million budget is the exact same budget that was approved last year.

“There are now zero increases over the 2008-2009 budget,” he said.

The superintendent said the board amended the budget in a number of places.

The district previously had set aside federal funding to explore whether windmills would be a good fit to power district schools. The board decided to take $150,000 out of that account to cover operational projects SAD 1 had funded. Other amendments were also made.

The district was hit with a $316,000 loss in state funding due to a spike in the local valuation of communities in the district, which had an impact on the budget. Officials also had to eliminate 11 positions in administrative and support areas.

Johnson said a budget hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 23, in the Presque Isle High School auditorium.

The referendum vote will take place June 30 in the five towns in the district. Voting in Presque Isle will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., while voters in Mapleton, Castle Hill, Chapman and Westfield will vote from 3 to 7 p.m.

Johnson said he hopes the changes made to the budget will appeal to taxpayers.

“The general discussion among board members after the initial budget did not pass was that they were hesitant to make changes to a budget that saw such a low voter turnout,” he said Friday. “But the board decided to lower the budget. We are hoping this passes, because we certainly need a budget.”

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