ELLSWORTH, Maine — Voters in three Hancock County school districts gave final approval to their respective school budgets in budget validation referendum votes on Tuesday.
The referendum votes, which affirmed the decisions made at annual budget meetings earlier this year, are a required step in the school budget process for Regional School Units 24 and 25 under Maine’s school reorganization law. In Deer Isle and Stonington, voters in the community school district adopted the validation vote process in 2003 and last year voted to continue the practice.
In all cases, the validation votes take place in the individual towns, but it is the combined vote of all the communities that decides the budget’s fate.
Turnout was generally low, except in towns such as Gouldsboro, which had the election of municipal officers on the ballot in conjunction with the annual town meeting.
In RSU 24, which includes Ellsworth, 10 other eastern Hancock County towns and one Washington County town, voters in all but one town favored the nearly $35.5 million budget. Voters in Hancock, hit with a half-million cut in state education subsidies this year, had attempted to reduce the budget during the annual budget meeting In May and voted heavily against the budget in Tuesday’s balloting. But the vote tally from all the towns reaffirmed the vote at the annual budget meeting in May by a 465-259 vote.
That budget included a new debt payment of the principal owed for the new elementary-middle school in Ellsworth, an amount of almost $1.4 million that is expected to be reimbursed to the district in full. The actual operating budget, without the new debt payment, is $34.1 million.
The votes in the individual towns were: Eastbrook, 15-4; Ellsworth, 71-47; Franklin, 21-13; Gouldsboro 136-38; Hancock, 12-79; Lamoine, 44-20; Mariaville, 13-6; Sorrento, 11-7; Steuben, 27-7; Sullivan, 20-18; Waltham, 40-2; and Winter Harbor, 55-18.
In RSU 25, which includes the towns of Bucksport, Orland, Prospect, and Verona Island, voters also reaffirmed approval of the $12.8 million budget by an overall vote of 150-22. The budget had been approved at the May 27 annual budget meeting. Voters in each of the four towns also approved the budget decision. In Bucksport, the vote was 76-8; in Orland, 50-9; Prospect, 16-4; and Verona Island, 8-1.
Voters in Deer Isle and Stonington also affirmed the community school district’s $6.1 million budget, which had been approved last week at the annual budget meeting. The total vote was 104-41, with the vote in Stonington passing the budget by a 41-9 vote; and Deer Isle voters doing the same, 63-32.
Voter also affirmed their decision approving the $22,702 adult education budget by a vote of 116-26.