$36 million school budget approved in Hancock County

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted May 24, 2012, at 3:54 p.m.

SULLIVAN, Maine — By about a 3-to-1 ratio, voters approved a $36.1 million annual operating budget for RSU 24, according to an official.

Residents of the 12 member municipalities of RSU 24 met Wednesday evening at Mountain View School to hold an initial vote on the district’s 2012-2013 budget.

David Bridgham, business manager for RSU 24, said Thursday that 130 people attended the meeting, which lasted from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. He said that over several procedural votes about 100 people at the meeting consistently supported the proposed $36.1 million budget.

“All articles did pass as proposed,” Bridgham said.

Bridgham said that toward the beginning of the meeting an amendment was made to reduce the budget line for instruction from about $12 million to about $8 million but that amendment was defeated.

The budget represents an overall increase of 2 percent over the current annual budget, Bridgham said, despite the fact that the school unit is losing $682,000 in federal stimulus funds that had paid for bus drivers and that the school system’s energy costs also are expected to rise. The anticipated increased energy expenses include a $205,000 hike just for heating oil.

The school unit is expected to have fewer tuition students from outside the district next year and less balance forward to transfer from the current budget, Bridgham has said. The average budget increase for each RSU member town is 3.8 percent.

Bridgham has said several parts of the RSU budget are decreasing for the 2012-2013 year, including special education, athletics, career development and training, and district administration.

By law, a second validation referendum vote on the budget must be held before it becomes final. That vote will be held during the statewide primary elections on June 12.

The member municipalities of RSU 24 are Eastbrook, Ellsworth, Franklin, Hancock, Gouldsboro, Lamoine, Mariaville, Sorrento, Steuben, Sullivan, Waltham and Winter Harbor. About 19,000 people are estimated to live in RSU 24 member towns.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/24/news/hancock/36-million-school-budget-approved-in-hancock-county/ printed on August 22, 2014