FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue Regional School District residents initially approve a $31 million school budget that includes a 4.3 percent increase from the year before and is expected to increase district property taxes.

Superintendent Tom Ward said the $1.29 million increase comes primarily from a $400,000 decline in state funding and $600,000 in built-in costs like contracted raises.

Less than 1 percent of the district’s voters — about 100 residents — voted on the budget at the meeting. Following Monday’s vote, the proposal will go to a referendum vote next Tuesday, June 10. Voters can get poll locations and times from their respective town offices.

The district, Regional School Unit 9, includes 10 towns from three counties: Chesterville, Farmington, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Starks, Temple, Vienna, Weld and Wilton.

Ward said the school board and budget committee went through a time-consuming cutting process, carefully weighing the district’s needs and resources.

During the budget process, Ward’s first with the district, he said administrators first created a list of highest priorities that were presented to the board. Out of those priorities, committee members and board members sorted them into highest priorities and required increases. Those highest priorities were then sorted through and further reduced by just shy of $400,000.

“We started with about a 6 or 7 percent increase and decreased that to 4.3 percent,” Ward told voters gathered at Mt. Blue Campus Tuesday.

Budget cuts included requests to hire an additional school nurse and physical education teacher, which were reduced to half time personnel that the school hopes to later hire as full-time staff.

Within the school’s $3.5 million facilities budget, facilities director David Leavitt told voters that the school reduced its oil consumption by about 70,000 gallons through new wood pellet boilers.

Ward said some of the increase in electricity also comes from increased technology in the schools, which uses more power.

“We have the highest technology in everything,” he said.

The 17 individual articles in the budget were overwhelmingly voted in, with a handful of voters, including New Vineyard First Selectman Fay Adams and Selectman Frank Forster. dissenting on proposed budget increases.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 | [email protected]