Voters reject RSU 22 school budget

HAMPDEN, MAINE (NEWS CENTER) - Distrust between voters and education leaders may have led to a school budget getting shot down.


Regional School District 22 voters rejected the school budget Tuesday and may now be without one until the end of next month.

RSU 22 consists of Hampden, Newburgh, Winterport, and Frankfort. Voters from all four towns rejected the budget with a vote of 710 who opposed it to 637 people who supported it.

The proposed school budget was set to increase by 2.5 percent or  nearly $763,000, with the biggest increases going to regular instruction and special education.

School Superintendent Richard Lyons says he's not 100 percent sure why the budget was defeated at the ballot. Lyons feels there were a number of factors including a reluctance by some towns to raise the tax rate. 

"One has to realize that this is a representation of democracy," Lyons said of Tuesday's election results.

Hampden and Winterport town councils didn't publicly support this year's school budget. 

Hampden Town Manager, Angus Jennings, who has picked apart the school budget process in previous years, says part of the reason has to do with the uncertainty of state funding for education.

"If the state aid to education number increases -- which is expected -- that would have the effect of reducing the need for local tax revenues," Jennings said, "The town council's nightmare scenario is to raise more money from the taxpayers than is actually needed."

The school board of directors and budget committee are expected to get the ball rolling next week on finding solutions that would help build a revised budget proposal. Then there would be a new district budget meeting and finally a new vote. That may not happen until late July according to school officials.

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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