OAKLAND — The budget for Regional School Unit 18 received initial approval from residents at its district budget hearing Tuesday evening and now heads to a June 12 referendum for a final decision.

About 40 people from the towns of Belgrade, China, Oakland and Rome attended the hearing at the Messalonskee High School performing arts center.

The budget recommended by the school board totals $37,580,390 — which is up by $1,347,294, or 3.72 percent, from the current fiscal year’s spending plan. The increase is being driven largely by the payments the district will make on the principle and interest of the $13.9 million bond to fix facilities and build an athletic complex that voters approved in November. The combined payments will total $1,989,334 for the fiscal year.

The budget passed at the hearing by a vote of 30-0 without any discussion from the residents at the hearing.

It was the district’s second attempt at a budget hearing this month. A May 17 meeting was in progress when an error was discovered on the warrant articles. The expenditures listed in articles six and seven had been transposed. Since motions can be made only to decrease and not increase an expenditure, the error could not be corrected at the time of the meeting.

Residents present had voted and approved five articles before the error, involving the articles asking for authorization of the expenditures relating to the system administration and the school administration, was discovered. System administration is made up of the superintendent’s office staff, and school administration refers to principals, vice principals and other administrators at each school.

The error was spotted when a resident asked why there was an increase of 131.46 percent in the system administration from the current fiscal year. Administators then determined that the $1,933,014 listed for system administration and $842,765 listed for school administration were incorrect; the numbers were reversed.

The funds proposed for system administration total $842,765. The expenditure proposed for school administration totals $1,933,014.

The residents Tuesday approved the six remaining articles left over from the previous meeting.

Voters will be able to have the final say on the proposed budget at the June 12 election at their respective community’s polling place.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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