Residents in Bingham and Moscow approved a $3.23 million budget for School Administrative District 13 on Tuesday, the first time in the last three years that the budget has passed after a single referendum vote.

The budget was approved by a total of 105-74. Residents in Bingham approved the measure 69-45 while residents in Moscow voted 36-29. The two communities make up Bingham-based School Administrative District 13.

The budget, which represents about a seven percent increase from the current $3.01 million budget, comes with some cuts as well as additions to services.

There are plans to eliminate a part-time special education teacher, a part-time education technician and a part-time kitchen worker, according to a report from superintendent Virginia Rebar.

However, there are also plans to reinstate a part-time music teacher at the high school, where there is currently no music program, and to add a part-time social worker in the district, according to the report.

Rebar could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Her report stated that changes to state funding made the budget process difficult this year. The district plans to receive a $858,396 state subsidy, which is $36,215 less than the current year, she said. There are also plans for the state to shift teacher retirement costs to local school districts, which means an additional cost, said Rebar.

Wendy Belanger, 45, of Moscow, said at the polls that she supported the budget.

“I think it is pretty straightforward,” said Belanger, who is a teacher at Moscow Elementary School. “The budget is a complicated process and the school board puts in a lot of work. I find it discouraging that more people don’t attend the informational meetings.”

But some thought the price was too high. Brian Frigon, 52, a self-employed contractor from Bingham, said the changes the state is proposing were part of the reason he voted against the budget on Tuesday.

“Every year there are less and less kids and the costs keep going up. Little towns are hurting. The state puts too much pressure on us,” he said at the polls.

The budget also includes an increase in the amount that each town will have to raise in taxes. Bingham will pay $746,762, which is $99,370 more than the current year, and Moscow residents will pay $961,401, which is $76,887 more, according to the superintendent’s report.

On Tuesday afternoon, Leo Hill, 42, a school board member, said he expected the vote to be close.

“I think it is a fair budget and we did all we could to keep the increase relatively small, although I know people are concerned about their taxes,” he said. Hill, who is from Bingham, said he has three children enrolled in the district.

“I’d like to be able to see them keep going to school in this district. They do a good job,” he said.

2010 was the last time the budget passed after a single referendum vote. The current budget passed in late August after a third referendum vote and about $98,000 in cuts from the initially proposed budget.

In 2011 it took two tries for the SAD 13 communities to approve a school budget and in 2009 it took four times.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
[email protected]

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