The proposed $17.7 million Regional School Unit 4 budget sailed through with little opposition Wednesday night in a district-wide town meeting at Oak Hill High School in Wales that included voters in Litchfield, Sabattus and Wales a day after voters in Regional School Unit 2 approved its $24.4 million budget.

About 60 people watched RSU 4 Superintendent James Hodgkin provide a brief explanation about the budget before Wednesday night’s meeting.

The one written ballot question that sought an additional $1.7 million in local money was approved 39-16. However, only one or two people raised their wooden paint paddles to vote against the 13 other articles on the ballot.

Board members and administrators said they were pleased with the results of the meeting and urged residents to turn up at the polls Tuesday to give final approval to the school budget.

Hodgkin said that while the budget itself is $150,000 higher than the current year, some $2.7 million of the expense is being shifted from the state directly onto the towns.

“This results in double-digit increases to taxpayers,” he said. “The impact is pretty dramatic.”


Hodgkin said the district is required to pick up $222,000 in Maine State retirement payments at the same time it loses almost $447,000 in funding for essential programs and services as well as the $400,000 it carried over into last year’s budget.

As a result, he said the board was forced to make significant cuts, including nine teaching jobs.

“This is the first year we’ve had to cut programs.”

Ronda Fournier of Sabattus questioned whether the $80,000 spent on a recently created post of operations director has saved money and was told so far $82,000 was saved.

“I just like to see the numbers,” she said.

Litchfield resident David Blocher, who asked a number of questions, blamed lawmakers in Augusta for failing to address the retirement funding in a timely manner so school districts could better prepare their budgets.


Hodgkin warned that the actual saving for the district would be about $120,000 if it did not have to expend the $222,000. However, he said the board would carry that money over into next year rather than restore programs.

James Levasseur, also of Litchfield, questioned a number of articles as well.

“I’m on Social Security and I only get so much a year. Half of my increase for this year is going to be spent in property taxes,” he said.

He suggested fewer stops for the school buses and after the meeting suggested giving a stipend to people who take their own children to school and even giving physical education credit for students who walk to school.

Under the 2013-2014 budget Litchfield residents who own property assessed at $100,000 will pay almost $99 more annually to support the budget. In Sabattus, that same homeowner would pay $163 more, and in Wales, the bill would be almost $144 more.

The schools have a total enrollment of 1,431, and 11 other students are placed outside the district.


About 100 people attended RSU 2’s regional budget meeting at Hall-Dale High School on Tuesday, and they approved the school board’s draft budget without changes. Superintendent Virgel Hammonds said one man proposed flat-funding every article, but his amendments were all defeated on voice votes.

The $24.4 million budget increases spending by 5.6 percent, but because of a reduction in state subsidy, the share to be paid through local taxes would rise 13.8 percent if the budget passes in the June 11 referendum.

For every $1,000 in taxable value, the school budget would raise property taxes by $1 in Dresden, $1.40 in Farmingdale, $1.80 in Hallowell, $1.50 in Monmouth and 90 cents in Richmond.

“I’m always hopeful and optimistic,” Hammonds said about the prospects for budget approval. “I think we have a lot of community members who are supportive of giving our learning communities everything they need to provide a quality education.”

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