MONMOUTH — Selectmen have settled on a municipal budget that will shave spending by $2,000 over the 2012-13 fiscal year.

But any sense of satisfaction board members might have felt during Wednesday’s meeting was quickly swept under a tide of anxiety over how much it might cost to educate the town’s children.

“We worked hard not to raise taxes,” Town Manager Curtis Lunt said. “I’m real proud of this budget. The voters will support it.”

The overall budget request of $2,811,000 is down about $2,000 from the current budget, Lunt said.

Officials in Regional School Unit 2, which includes Monmouth, Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell and Richmond, are trying to close a $1.4 million budget gap. How the school district chooses to do that — either cutting programs or raising taxes — could have significant consequences for residents, Selectman Harold Jones said. He said the municipal budget should not take a bigger hit to help lessen the blow of increases in education spending.

“We can’t hold municipal offices hostage to education,” Jones said.

Selectmen expect a significant increase in property taxes to the town next year due to the recently completed substation in south Monmouth. The increase will likely absorb any tax increase required for the school budget, but the board had hoped to use that extra money to cut the mill rate. Jones said the relief would be timely in light of rising fuel costs.

“Ideally, the school will come in near flat so there will be no increase in revenue,” Jones said. “The last three years the mill rate has gone up significantly — all directly related to education.”

Selectman Doug Ludewig said the preliminary budget cuts being considered by the board leave administration funding largely intact while slashing programs for students. He urged RSU 2 Board Member Annya Rice, who was at the selectmen’s meeting, to ask her fellow board members to look elsewhere.

Selectman Chairwoman Pauline McDougald said any school budget that increases spending would be insupportable.

“I’m not going to vote for anything if it’s an increase,” she said. “I’ve had it.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

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