For the second time in just more than a month, voters in Litchfield, Wales and Sabattus rejected a proposed budget for town schools Tuesday.

By a 232–195 margin, the $17.6 million budget for Regional School Unit 4 for the 2013–14 school year — a 0.5 percent increase over last year’s — was rejected. The school board will have to return to the drawing board to likely reduce the budget further.

Nearly half the votes to reject the budget came from Sabattus, whose residents would have the largest property tax hike under the budget. They voted it down 111–68. Litchfield approved the budget 84–71 and Wales rejected it 50–43.

In an accompanying advisory vote asking whether residents wanted the budget increased or decreased, virtually all who responded, 224 of 243, said they wanted it reduced.

The budget rejected on Tuesday was approximately $55,000 less than another version rejected by voters June 11. This version also would have leveraged $175,000 in higher-than-anticipated revenue from the state.

The budget was expected to raise property taxes in each town, though not as much as the last proposal.

The district has said that under the budget rejected Tuesday, Sabattus would see an increase of $1.27 per $1,000 of property value, while Wales and Litchfield will see increases of $1.11 and 71 cents, respectively.

On a $150,000 home, that would mean property tax hikes of $191 in Sabattus, $167 in Wales and $107 in LItchfield. The budget rejected in June would have raised taxes by $245, $217 and $149 in the towns on $150,000 homes, respectively.

The budget would also eliminate 8.7 teaching positions, while giving all K–12 students either a laptop or an iPad.

Voters at a special meeting gave the budget rejected Tuesday preliminary approval last week.

In June, voters rejected the other version of the budget 331–292. Wales and Litchfield approved it then, but the 180–121 vote in Sabattus was enough to defeat it.

Michael Shepherd — 621-5632
[email protected]

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