Voters pass multimillion dollar loan for RSU 19 on third attempt

RSU 19 Superintendent Greg Potter visits with supporters during a rally at Sawyer's Dairy Bar in Newport on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. The rally was in support of the $2.8 million loan request from RSU 19 that went before voters on Friday.
RSU 19 Superintendent Greg Potter visits with supporters during a rally at Sawyer's Dairy Bar in Newport on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. The rally was in support of the $2.8 million loan request from RSU 19 that went before voters on Friday. Buy Photo
Posted March 08, 2013, at 12:01 p.m.
Last modified March 08, 2013, at 10:56 p.m.

NEWPORT, Maine — After two failed attempts, voters in eight mid-Maine towns approved a $2.8 million stabilization loan for Regional School Unit 19.

Six of the eight towns that represent RSU 19 passed the loan request on Friday, 1,815 to 1,634.

Corinna passed the referendum 276 to 228. Also passing the loan were Dixmont 176-99, Etna 121-95, Newport 428-312, Palmyra 263-260 and Plymouth 159-152.

Two towns voted down the loan including Hartland 221-155 and St. Albans 267-237

Ten votes in six towns were discounted.

“I am very relieved that the RSU 19 community passed the validation referendum question today,” RSU 19 Superintendent Greg Potter said in a statement on Friday night. “This authorizes the RSU to secure funding to take care of its debts, and it will allow for the creation of a very responsible and reasonable budget for 2013-14. I would like to thank everyone who made this possible. This situation has been extremely challenging and frustrating to everyone. Now, the RSU can move forward and focus on what is best for students. This loan will help a great deal, but the RSU will need to manage resources carefully over the coming months and years in order to regain the trust and respect of a community that has been hurt by a set of circumstances that should not have happened in the first place. As soon as the system is able to secure funding, a detailed final report will be made available to all towns.”

Because of serious errors in previous budgets, RSU 19 has a $3.6 million shortfall this school year. The district already has cut $1.6 million from the budget for this school year. RSU 19’s board of directors previously voted to ask residents for a $2.8 million stabilization loan. The district would use $1.5 million to repay its revenue anticipation loan to Androscoggin Bank, while the other $1.3 million would be used to pay bills.

Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, who stood in support of the loan request on Wednesday, said the area schools will be stronger.

“In these difficult economic times, voters in our towns decided to put our children first by passing this loan,” Fredette said in a statement on Friday night. “Now, we must work together to put a responsible budget together for next year that brings budgetary stability back to our taxpayers. Our future is now brighter, our schools are now stronger and our people are our best example of ‘community.’”

In November, a $3.6 million loan request was defeated 3,853 to 3,500. A $2.9 million loan request was denied in January 1,290 to 1,103.

On Wednesday, teachers and residents held picket signs at Sawyer’s Dairy Bar in Newport in support of securing the loan.

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