Franklin Countys First News

School budgets, state ballot questions, local votes on the ballot Tuesday

Mainers will head to the polls Tuesday for the state primary election, as well as school budget and municipal votes that were also rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two state bond questions are appearing on the ballot, seeking to borrow money to support high-speed internet and bridge, highway and other transportation projects. Question 1 asks for approval to issue up to $15 million in general obligation bonds to invest in infrastructure tied to the improvement of broadband services throughout the state. The funds would be administered in accordance with rules developed by ConnectME, and are expected to be matched with $30 million in other private and public funding. Per the Office of the Treasurer, the total lifetime cost of the bond would be more than $19 million, counting the $15 million principal and $4,125,000 in interest, assuming a 5 percent rate over 10 years.

Question 2 similarly requests approval to borrow $105 million under the administration of the Department of Transportation. The majority, $90 million, would go toward highway and bridge improvements as well as secondary roads under the Municipal Partnership Initiative. According to the state, funds invested in this category are matched at a ratio of approximately 2.8 federal dollars for each dollar invested by the state. Municipalities contribute 50 percent or more for projects covered by the Municipal Partnership Initiative.

Another $15 million would go toward "multi-modal facilities and equipment related to passenger rail and public transit (public transportation), freight rail, aviation, ports, harbors, marine transportation, bicycle and pedestrian projects (referred to as “active transportation projects”) and associated activities." Those funds are expected to be matched by $275 million in federal and local money.

Per the Office of the Treasurer, the total lifetime cost of the bonds associated with Question 2 would be $133.9 million, counting the $105 million principal and $28,875,000  in interest, assuming a 5 percent rate over 10 years.

Contested primaries will select the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Sen. Susan Collins as well as the Republican challenger to Democratic incumbent Rep. Jared Golden. Running for the senate seat are candidates Sara Gideon, Bre Kidman and Elizabeth Sweet. Running for the congressional district seat are candidates Adrienne Bennett, Eric Brakey and Dale Crafts.

School budgets seeking approval include Regional School Unit 9's proposed $38,186,924 budget. That would represent a roughly $1.06 million increase over the current fiscal year, or 2.86 percent.

Despite the proposed increase in expenditures, the 10 towns that make up RSU 9 would see a decrease in the average local assessments of 1.93 percent. This is due to increases in the district's state subsidy allotment tied to student enrollment, increased funding for cost centers such as system administration and Foster Career and Technical Education Center and additional money relating to the district joining a regional service center last year.

The budget includes raises for salaried employees - the school board previously approved increases to support staff and administrator pay and is currently negotiating with teachers - as well as an additional special education teacher, an additional English as a second language teacher, adding Criminal Justice and EMT programs to Foster Tech, making several education technician positions full-time, which would extend those positions benefits in a bid to retain employees, as well as number of school improvement projects. Other increases include the second step of the summer salary accrual plan, $80,000, additional funding for nurses, the Extended Year Program, student assessments, the local share of the cost of two buses through the Volkswagen emissions settlement, or $78,000, among other expenses.

A previously-proposed, part-time assistant superintendent position is not in the budget.

More information about the RSU 9 budget process is available here.

MSAD 58 is also putting a budget before voters. The proposed $10,352,500 budget represents a 6 percent increase, primarily due to salaries, benefits and contracted services which make up more than 80 percent of the budget. Local tax payers would be looking at a contribution of $4.26 million, which is a decrease of $37,000, or 0.85 percent, from the previous year, due to an increase in state subsidy and the balance forward amount.

The budget includes an increase in hours for the Food Service Director and a new maintenance position.

The RSU 73 budget referendum vote has been rescheduled to Aug. 18 after an issue was discovered relating to the information that appears on the ballot.

Municipal votes taking place tomorrow include Jay's town meeting and municipal election. As previously presented, the 36-article warrant would approve $5,300,474 in proposed municipal expenditures would mark a roughly $9,000 reduction in spending as compared to the current fiscal year. With projected revenues increasing to $2.1 million, a $120,000 jump over the current budget, residents would be asked to pay $3.23 million in assessments, a decrease of roughly $130,000 or more than 3 percent.

Candidates in the municipal election include incumbent Selectperson F. Timothy DeMillo running for his own seat and two candidates running for the 5th Selectperson seat: incumbent Selectperson Gary McGrane and challenger Trudy-Marie Marshall. Two positions are open on the Regional School Unit 73 board with a single candidate, incumbent Director Robert Staples II. Candidates running unopposed for trustee seats on the water district include Raymond Fleury II and Randall Doiron. All of these positions are three-year terms.

Poll locations and times

Avon - 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Community Room
Carrabassett Valley - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Office
Carthage - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Office
Chesterville - 8 a.m.to 8 pm - Town Office
Coplin Plantation - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Office
Dallas Plantation - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Office
Eustis - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Office
Farmington - 8 a.m. to 8 pm - Community Center
Industry - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Office
Jay - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Spruce Mountain Elementary School, in the gym
Kingfield - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Webster Hall
New Sharon - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Masonic Lodge
New Vineyard - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Community Hall
Starks - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Community Center
Phillips - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Office
Rangeley - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Office
Rangeley Plantation - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. - School house
Sandy River Plantation - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Office
Strong - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Forster Building
Temple - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Hall
Vienna - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Fire Station
Weld - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Hall
Wilton - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Town Office

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25 Responses »

  1. Vote N0 on RSU #9. No explanation needed.

  2. Explanation is needed... budget is up a bit... not much at all. Our taxes will go down 2% as stated in article. Doesn’t seem like a year to complain about budget. It costs money to educate and feed our kids. Can’t expect to much of a decrease with inflation and cost of commodities up every year. It only makes sense that it will see a slight in crease every year. If increase is large... ok vote no... but it’s responsible! Vote yes!

  3. Our economy was shutdown and those deemed “unworthy” were denied work while the elites warming seats in government and education jobs sat home and collected. VOTE NO as many times as it takes because the Homeowners, businesses and taxpayers are tapped out.

  4. Down, down, down: Local taxes for Rsu 9 going down almost 2%? I will vote yes, and get some masks for my family to go to school.

  5. Defund the publicly financed indoctrination program.
    Until the teachers mind their own business.

  6. Vote NO! Now is not the time to approve a budget when we don't even know what our children will be receiving for an education.

  7. Not all towns are seeing a reduction not that it’s the school’s fault that is calculated by the state. The problem is our kids aren’t getting a better education by increasing the budget by a $1million. I like Peter’s idea of defunding the indoctrination centers and the state can pay parents to school how they see fit for their kids. VOTE NO !!!!

  8. I think it's a little ridiculous that we have to vote on the school budget before they'll tell us whether they're going to decide to come to work again in the fall. If they don't work, they shouldn't get their paychecks.

  9. I just voted this morning in New Sharon and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone running the polling station. They provided a safe place for all our residents to vote. Kudos New Sharon!

  10. Remember, . ."voters cannot be turned away". . if they are NOT wearing a mask!

  11. As long as we keep approving the budget it says every thing must be fine with the education in this district. Things will remain pretty much the same old ,same old year after year, A HUGE RUT that we can't get out of. It is time for drastic CHANGE in our schools. By voting NO and not funding what is broken it will get fixed! VOTE NO and NO AGAIN if this is what it takes. TRY IT and we'll see. VOTE NO.

  12. Peter,

    As a teacher we did not sit home and collect! We worked remotely online with kids, sent weekly packets of work home and made connections with families on a daily basis. There was a lot of work to do from home. We did not just sit at home and watch tv all day.

  13. What, how did these packets get to the home? Mail? Who paid the postage? What grade level? How was the work evaluated?

  14. I voted no, I also happen to work in our schools. I just can not support this budget. Tough decisions need to be made folks. It's time to get real, buckle down, and make some hard choices.

  15. As a teacher in this district I am saddened to see such hatred and virtriol towards our profession. When we closed our buildings in March teachers got to work learning a brand new way to teach. School did not stop. We did not sit around and collect a paycheck as some have suggested. We worked just as hard and in some cases harder. We created and printed packets. We helped hand those packets out. We mailed packets. We delivered packets. We learned new technology to communicate with parents. We attended meetings via Zoom. We constantly emailed and called parents to answer questions and offer support. We created lessons and got them to students.I understand that this year is different and scary. This budget year is a decrease to taxes, not an increase. As to not knowing what this fall will look like, I would like to remind you that most schools have just started releasing plans and I know ours will too soon. Our district is taking the time to think through all the possibilities. No matter what they choose, it will not be a return to normal. No matter what is decided groups of people will be angry. I don't envy the countless teachers and other district staff making these decisions. If you want to vote no, that is your choice....but please do not undermine or belittle.

  16. Mr. Millay,

    Your thought process seems flawed. Voting 'no' won't inspire the type of systemic change at the State and Federal level that you are looking for. All that you will be doing is causing unnecessary turmoil and frustration at the local level. Districts in the area will need to keep rehashing the budget until one passes. That just means more of the teachers, principals, business offices, and boards time is taken away from the kids and other important work to rework unnecessary budget adjustments. Which, just causes continued community polarity, and costly revotes/ballots for our town offices.

    If you want to change the funding models write to your State Senators, Representatives, Governor, and Federal Representatives. Stop trying to take out your frustrations, that are meant for the whole system, out on the local school. Every year you and a handful of locals oppose the local schools blindly in the commentary of the bulldog. If you truly think the whole system needs an overhaul, run for State Representative or State Senator and put your money where your mouth is. Otherwise, enough already with the petty commentary. It's so old.

  17. The chosen few have risen to defend their taxpayer supported no show jobs. I guess the teachers union has prodded them to action. The idea of charter schools is certainly sounding good, particularly given the possibility of another remote learning scam being perpetrated on our taxpayers. VOTE NO now and as many times as it takes. Stop the spending right here and now.

  18. Invest Your Energy.... nice to see that you are aware of the existing frustration and turmoil in the community. If 'the hash' had been prepared properly the first time, it wouldn't have to be done again. IF teachers, principals, staff, and board members are taking time away from the students education to work on a BUDGET, there in itself lies a very serious problem!!! Don't worry, we are well aware that the school funding process/law needs changing. Nothing could be done about it this year. Thanks and have a nice evening. BOB M.

  19. If you need some reasons to vote no, here's a list of liberal malarky currently being taught in our "schools"

    Evolution, ie; man came from monkeys. Lol, obviously we're made from ribs so checkmate scientists.

    Round earth theory - time to stop drinking the NASA kool aid, just look at any map, IT'S FLAT!

    Reading - Our glorious leader doesn't waste time with fancy book reading, why should our kids?

    Geology - why are they trying to convince my kids dinosaurs existed and the Earth is over 4 billion years old? More lies.

    History - save us all some tax dollars and let my kid learn real history from the History Channel thank you very much.

    Sex Ed - everything I needed to know about sex ed I learned in a sheep barn and I TURNED OUT JUST FINE

    Critical Thinking Skills - nuff said.

  20. Energy elsewhere Bob can defend himself. I would like to mention that my problem with the schools are 1. Using free math curriculum while giving raises freely just because they “deserve” it
    2. Kids are still being bullied daily and it is explained to us as “it’s just kids being mean” that right there here is a load of crap !!!
    3. There is zero empathy from this district as to the condition we are currently in with this “pandemic” they just want more more more.
    This budget doesn’t even have any confirmation from the state to how much we will actually get because they still aren’t doing anything in Augusta because the governor won’t call them back to get things done.
    That is exactly why I voted NO on this budget there are too many variables open to prove transparency or zero fluff in this budget.

  21. Bob,

    Teachers prepared packets to be picked up every two weeks to supplement with the online instruction and assignments. Parents were allowed to pick the packets up during designated times and arrangements were made for specific cases when needed. Those that needed to be mailed were paid for by the school system most of the time. I did use my own personal money to send lots of packets to my students costing me a lot of money but that was my own choice as I kept sending stuff to help through out. This was done K-5 as those students don’t have regular access to technology as do student in the higher grades who have student laptops. Lots of learning was taking place by the students and the teachers. This was a change for everyone to have to adapt to and learn a new way of teaching and communicating virtually! I actually found more communication through this ordeal with the parents which was one of the many positives that came from this! As far as how the work was evaluated was case and grade specific!

  22. teacher,
    Undermine or belittle you say.
    I agree.
    Please don't undermine families rights to their beliefs.
    And please don't belittle any student who might have an opinion differing from what the teachers union support.
    Mr Hodum expressed in writing YOUR support of BLM. Please respect people's right to a different understanding.
    If you do that, I commend you.

    We're not raising Robots.

    Your job changed.
    Your not the only one.
    Many have lost theirs.
    Money is tight.

    Everything Is Beautiful.

  23. I have a son and many friends who are teachers. Once school closed in march they did very little in April and May.
    I can’t suppose any increase in the budget and the staff with a conscious shouldn’t either. I vote no on budget.

  24. I think everyone on here should know Bob Millay is a retired school teacher from a different district and if circumstances were different his vote or process of thoughts might be different. Thanks to all involved for keeping children and staff safe. May everything be better in the fall as school starts.

  25. Mr. invest your energy. What you just said was like a slap in the face to many people under the present circumstances and allmost a dare to break the teachers union. There is nothing flawed about expecting fiscal responsibility and rural areas chasing the over inflated pay scales of city circumstances in times like these are a classic case of stupidity to allready hard pressed frugal rural yankees. By this time next year the state will very likely be broke and taxes in the UT will go up every where but where they should. Business in a state that depends on tourism may or may not start to recover and may be to late for many. I dont know where in your dream you found the cure in Augusta for I realized long ago you can not legislate common sense. Change the funding models. Wow! Its no wonder kids are growing up with a entitlement attitude.

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