STACYVILLE, Maine — Voters in the 12 towns of the newly organized RSU 50 have turned down a proposed $9.2 million budget for the southern Aroostook County district.
More than 700 people turned out for the referendum vote on June 30, John Doe, superintendent of RSU 50, said Wednesday. Although the budget sailed through a public hearing late last month, residents voted 402-301 to turn it down.
Doe said Wednesday that he couldn’t comment on the results at this point, as he had not yet met with the school board to decide the next steps. He planned to meet with them Wednesday evening.
The new RSU is made up of the former SAD 25 and CSD 9. Its communities include Dyer Brook, Crystal, Hersey, Island Falls, Merrill, Moro, Mount Chase, Oakfield, Patten, Sherman, Smyrna and Stacyville.
Approximately 52 people attended the public hearing on the budget, and Doe said that it went well. He said it was difficult to compare the proposed budget to previous years, as this was the first year the districts have operated as a consolidated unit.
Although the RSU saved more than $146,000 by consolidating and avoiding penalties, spending for the RSU was up $32,070 over last year. At the same time, the district saw a decrease in state funding. For the 2011-2012 school year, RSU 50 will receive $4.7 million from the state, which is down close to $110,000 from last year. A $161,928 reduction in federal stimulus funds also factored into the budget.
Another obstacle was the $450,000 loss in income and other revenue from last year.
As was the case in SAD 29 in Houlton, the RSU had to raise more money as its local share for education in order to receive full state aid. The required local share is $2.3 million, which is up 2.5 percent over last year.
The school board approved the use of $400,000 in surplus funds to offset taxation. Despite that move, and the cutting of several education technician positions, the majority of the communities would have seen a tax increase under the proposed budget.
Doe said he expected to formulate a plan for moving forward on Thursday.