CHINA — The school board of Regional School Unit 18 voted unanimously to support a flat-funded budget for the upcoming school year.

A schedule of budget meetings leading up to an Oct. 2 referendum vote for the district’s five towns was also established during the board’s meeting Wednesday night at China Primary School, attended by about 35 area residents.

District voters from Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney rejected a $33 million budget in June, and a $32.6 million budget last week.

Opponents of the school budgets, including the boards of selectmen in Belgrade and Sidney, called for a budget of $31,975,420, which is the same as last school year’s budget.

Superintendent Gary Smith recommended that the board adopt a flat budget, noting that the results of last week’s election were more definitive than a close vote in June.

“This was 55 percent to 45 percent,” he said. “I’ve gotten the message.”

Even a flat budget, however, would still result in a redistribution of taxes among the towns, because state funding formulas are based on property value shifts in each municipality.

Under a flat budget, Oakland property owners would see the biggest increase, of about $25 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Belgrade property owners would pay about $9 more per $100,000 of assessed value, while China property owners would pay about $8 more per $100,000 of assessed value.

Rome property owners will see the biggest tax decrease, of $43 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Taxes on Sidney property owners would decrease by about $9 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Board member Kerri Oliver said that the flat-funded budget would be about $1.4 million less than the district’s funding levels in 2008-2009.

The board also established a timeline to bring a new budget before voters, beginning with a special board meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at which Smith will make recommendations on cuts to the board.

He said that he would present detailed summaries of the cuts, and asked that the board try to look at different funding levels, rather than individual line items, based on the length of the process.

“What we just finished was, I just brought you an a la carte menu. I think it was putting you in a challenging position, and I would like to avoid that,” he said.

Board member Elwood Ellis, who made the motion to target a flat budget, specified that the administration’s recommendations should be followed. Board member Lora Downing seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

The board would approve a budget at its Sept. 5 meeting and hold a special meeting Sept. 12 to approve the warrant articles.

A district budget meeting is scheduled for Sept. 20 at the Performing Arts Center in Messalonskee High School, leading up to a district-wide referendum on Oct. 2.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.