VASSALBORO — A proposed $5.6 million combined municipal and school budget was easily passed by voters at the annual Town Meeting Monday evening.

Approximately 100 residents attended the meeting held in the gymnasium of the Vassalboro Community School. Voters sat on the bleachers, faced by members of the board of selectmen, school board, budget committee and town administrators.

A school budget validation referendum and the election of municipal officers will be held Tuesday, June 9.

The budget, which calls for spending approximately $526,000 more than last year, received overwhelming support from voters who approved every article with almost no discussion. Town officials estimate that the spending plan could increase the town’s property tax rate, currently $12.80 per $1,000 valuation, by at least 85 cents. The town plans to use $268,000 from surplus to limit the tax increase.

On two occasions without any conversation, voters approved motions to combine the articles dealing with the municipal and school budgets and vote on them in a single bundle.

The $1.9 million municipal budget is about 10 percent larger than last year, an increase driven mainly by the $300,000 summer road maintenance budget, which is $139,000 more than last year. The money will fund paving projects on Church Hill, Priest Hill, Mudget Hill and Hunt roads and Willow and Canal streets.


The largest increase in spending is driven by the school budget, however. Superintendent Eric Haley said that 2015-16 was a tough year for budgets.

“I wish I had better news about the school budget for you,” he told voters.

The school budget is about $201,371 bigger than last year, a 2.9 percent increase. Town taxes fund about $3.19 million of the $7.1 million budget. The state is increasing the amount it requires school districts to pay in local taxes and is pulling back funding it gives to the schools, Haley said. This year, the schools expect to lose about $149,443 in revenue and raise $350,813 more in local taxes, according to budget materials provided by the schools.

“Unfortunately schools have no place to go but local taxes,” Haley said.

The increase is also driven by almost $96,700 more in tutition to local high schools that Vassalboro students attend. The town has agreements with Winslow and Waterville high schools and Erskine Academy in China to educate high school students, and more are choosing to go to the more expensive private school next year, Haley said.

The budget is also being increased by a 3 percent contracted wage raise for teachers, Haley said. Voters swiftly approved the school budget articles in a bundle with very little discussion.


The town also approved giving $38,000 from its Alewife Reserve fund to the China Region Lakes Alliance to help fund a project to remove or bypass dams on Outlet Stream that will allow the return of river herring, also known as alewives, to nearby China Lake to spawn. The town contracts with a fisherman to harvest the alewives that run into Webber Pond and gets a cut of the proceeds from the sale of the fish. This year the town expects to take in more than $18,000 from the harvest, Town Manager Mary Sadbins said.

Voters also gave the town a green light to apply for a Community Development Block Grant that would provide $1 million to the Vassalboro Sanitary District to help fund a project to remove the town’s sewage treatment system and connect to the sewer system in neighboring Winslow.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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