Residents of the three towns that make up Regional School Unit 4 will vote on a $18.79 million budget proposal in early September, having rejected two previous budgets proposed by the district’s school board.

Residents of Sabattus, Wales and Litchfield will vote on the new budget proposal Sept. 6, after having given it preliminary approval Wednesday evening at a district budget meeting at Oak Hill High School, according to minutes posted on the district’s website.

The new budget proposal is $7,000 lower than the $18.8 budget RSU 4 voters rejected on July 26 in a 213-184 vote.

In a voice mail message left Thursday afternoon, Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said the latest reduction came from his own salary. But Hodgkins was not immediately available to answer follow-up questions Thursday evening.

In June, RSU 4 voters rejected in a 483-465 vote the first, $18.9 million budget proposed by the school board. That budget proposal was 1.84 percent higher than the 2015-2016 budget.

One of the reasons for the proposed increase was a $422,014 reduction in the amount of state aid to the district for the 2017 school year. The budget proposal also included a $341,711 increase for, among other things, a bus, textbooks, technology investments and a new dean of students position that was meant to address an increase in problematic behavior by students.

But even after the board removed $100,000 from the budget proposal, voters again rejected it in July.

In recent interviews and public comments, some voters — from Litchfield, in particular — have criticized the district’s budget proposal, arguing it should be at least $100,000 lower and suggesting that residents on fixed incomes can’t keep pace with the increases in education spending.

Some Litchfield residents and officials also believe their town owes an unfair share of the district’s costs.

Speaking last month, Hodgkin called the outcome of the July vote “exceedingly frustrating.”

“The really frustrating piece is, there’s an overwhelming number of people who want to support education but don’t turn out to the polls,” he said. “I’m very certain there are way more than that number of people who support education in RSU 4.”

This isn’t the first time in recent years when voters have rejected the RSU 4 budget through the latter part of summer. In 2015, voters in June defeated the original budget by about 30 votes, requiring another vote in July. And in 2013, voters rejected the budget twice before giving it final approval in August of that year.

In June, RSU 4 voters also approved a measure to keep sending the school budget to residents for a validation vote for the next three years.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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