May 28, 2018
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Lincoln-area school district will bring ballot before voters a third time

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

LINCOLN, Maine — Regional School Unit 67 will try for a third time to get a budget passed.

The district’s proposed budget of $12,267,722 was shot down by voters on Tuesday in Lincoln, Mattawamkeag and Chester by a count of 326-190.

“We have kids starting school here in about a month and we don’t have a budget in place,” said Superintendent Denise Hamlin. “We have a finance committee meeting scheduled for Monday.”

The budget on Tuesday’s ballot was the same one that was voted down by residents the first time, on June 12, according the Hamlin.

She speculated that the biggest reason the budget didn’t pass was that the amount wasn’t written on the ballot.

“All three communities have mentioned the fact that the dollar amount wasn’t [on the ballot itself],” Hamlin said Thursday. “The budget was supposed to be in the booths, but it wasn’t there. People don’t like to vote on a budget that they don’t know how much it is they’re voting for.”

The budget on the ballot gave the district everything it needed to run its programs, she said.

“We have a lot of services that other schools have let go. Let’s hope that we can keep those programs for kids because that’s what we’re here for,” said Hamlin, who mentioned the district’s computer-aided design program, advanced preparatory classes, shop, life skills and two foreign language classes.

She said the district will go back to find ways to lower the budget and bring it back before the voters.

The finance meeting on Monday will set the budget timeline.

“The towns have asked us to get it completed as soon as we can because of their revenue. It creates a revenue shortfall for them if we can’t get their tax bills out,” said Hamlin.

A school board meeting is planned for Aug. 8. The board will have a budget workshop at 6 p.m. with the regular meeting at 7 p.m. A question-and-answer session will be held afterward. Hamlin encouraged residents of the three towns to attend.

“What’s unfortunate is when people have questions about the budget, they wait [until after the budget goes to the ballot],” said Hamlin. “If they have questions about a line, funding source or revenue, it becomes a lot of misinformation.”

Hamlin encouraged people with questions about the budget to come talk to her about it.

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