June 17, 2018
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Newport area schools’ superintendent disappointed by budget’s defeat

Alex Barber | BDN
Alex Barber | BDN
RSU 19 Superintendent Greg Potter (center) talks to members of the board of directors during a meeting at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport on Jan. 30, 2013. Potter recently expressed his disappointment in the 2013-14 school budget for RSU 19 not passing.
By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

NEWPORT, Maine — RSU 19’s $22.7 million budget for the 2013-14 school year was defeated by 57 votes after residents in the district’s eight towns voted on Tuesday, according to superintendent Greg Potter.

Only Corinna and Dixmont passed the budget, while Etna, Hartland, Newport, Palmyra, Plymouth and St. Albans defeated it. The budget failed by a count of 457-400.

Corinna passed the budget with a vote of 76-47, as did Dixmont 43-22. The budget failed in Etna with a vote of 32-22. It also failed in Hartland, 53-35; Newport, 100-93; Palmyra, 83-45; Plymouth, 54-34; and St. Albans, 66-52.

Two votes in Plymouth were voided, as well as one in Newport.

“I am obviously quite disappointed in the results related to Article I,” Potter said in an email. “We worked very hard. We cut over $1.3 million, or nearly 6 percent, in operational spending, and then had to include the shift of $309,000 for the local district to pay for Maine State Retirement costs, where the state has been doing that in the past. We also had to include a $398,000 annual payment toward the $2.8 million general obligation bond in this budget. So, overall spending would be down nearly 3 percent, instead of 6 percent [without those extra costs].”

On May 28, about 75 voters in the district easily placed the $22.7 million budget on the ballot during a district-wide meeting.

Because the $22.7 million figure was approved during the district meeting, that number will be billed to area towns.

“The billings may be adjusted later, depending upon what is finally adopted,” said Potter.

Potter said the district now has 45 days to bring a new proposal up for a public meeting.

“We will go back to the drawing board,” he said. “I suspect that I will be recommending some slight reductions to the spending figure affecting local shares [and], more than likely, some of the new proposed items will not be in the next attempt, depending on how the Board [of directors] feels, and/or revenue anticipations might get adjusted, depending on state budget results.”

A failure at the polls is nothing new for RSU 19. A stabilization loan for the district failed twice before a $2.8 million figure was approved in March.

All eight towns approved the second question Tuesday — where voters could renew the budget referendum process for a further three years — by a total vote of 622-233.

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