Decreases in planned spending increases do not produce “cuts” as most voters understand it. This is why the budget for RSU 18 was defeated by Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney voters.

Leading to election day, MaineToday Media misled its readers in reporting cuts, when the net result of budget approval would have meant greater spending. MTM should strive to report the whole picture.

Superintendent Gary Smith has promised to provide dollars spent (actual) for each budget area. This information has been requested multiple times and has never been made available. MTM can now get and report actual versus budgeted amounts from the RSU 18 website ahead of the July 26 district budget meeting. MTM should consider reporting how budget proposals affect property taxes of median-value homes instead of per $100,000 of valuation, which is well below the median home value in any of our five towns.

In 10 years, Sidney increased its property tax collection by 70 percent. Of total taxes collected, the RSU 18 allocation jumped from 65 percent to 86 percent.

That means RSU 18 has received increases on top of increases. There have been no spending cuts.

We urge MTM to do a better job of explaining the difference between actual and budgeted. Smith also has offered to review how RSU 18 uses its All Call System to get out the vote. Before budget votes, only parents and staff receive pre-recorded reminder calls. These are followed by emails, including an audio file of each call. Forwarding an email to voters without school-age children should not present any difficulties or additional cost. We trust Smith to quickly rectify this unintended discrimination by omission.

Art and Laura Smith

Sidney

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