Two people from Mount Vernon are vying for a three-year term representing the town on the board of Regional School Unit 38, the Maranacook Area Schools.

The election, which is part of the annual Town Meeting, is set for Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Community Center. The business portion of the meeting then begins 9 a.m. June 16 at the Mount Vernon Elementary School.

In the lone contested race, one candidate, Catherine “Cathy” Jacobs, worked in the district for 16 years, six as dean of students and 10 as principal of Maranacook Middle School. The other candidate, Jonathan Berry, also has been involved in the schools, raising more than $500 about 30 months ago for cross-country ski equipment for a free, after-school program he directed for students at Mount Vernon Elementary School.

Jacobs retired two years ago and was appointed by selectmen to the seat to finish out a term after Patricia “Trish” Jackson resigned after she was elected to the select board.

Jacobs, 64, says her year on the school board gave her insight into what’s up next.

“I have a good insight into not only the workings of the school district, but also the importance of operating on a budget that is fiscally responsible to our towns,” Jacobs said via email. “We need to be sure that the money we are asking our citizens to give our schools provides a top notch educational experience for our students while at the same time enables folks, young and old, to be able to afford to continue to live and work here.”

She has seven grandchildren in Mount Vernon, and five of them will be in the school system for the 2018-19 year.

Jacobs works at the University of Maine at Farmington as an adjunct professor of mathematics and a field coach supervisor for math coach candidates in the Maine Mathematics Coaching Program.

Berry did not respond to several emails asking for information on why he wants to be on the school board, and a phone number for him was unavailable.

Among the business items on the warrant for the annual Town Meeting is a request to spend up to $50,000 from fund balance for the expansion of the Dr. Shaw Memorial Library.

The two-story addition, with 1,200 square foot on each floor is designed to offer more space for books and more meeting space for programs. Mount Vernon residents approved the expansion project at the polls in June 2015, and the library trustees stepped up a fundraising campaign with a $400,000 goal. Residents approved a similar amount last year.

Paul Crockett, chairman of the select board, said the money will help cover the cost of an elevator for access to the second floor.

Crockett anticipates some discussion regarding the transfer station operation, which was budgeted at $107,000 for the upcoming year, the same amount as this year’s budget.

But the town received a letter dated May 14, 2018, from Waste Management’s Norridgewock office indicating fees for recyclable material are increasing to $140 a ton on June 1, which the firm terms “an extraordinary increase” required because of “changes implemented by the Chinese government in 2018.” China has been accepted a quarter of the world’s recyclables up to now, the letter says. As of June 26, 2017, the town was paying $20.38 per ton to dispose of its single stream recyclables.

“We wrapped up the warrant work prior to getting this letter,” Crockett said on Wednesday.

He added that the real challenge for towns like Mount Vernon is to keep contaminants out of the single-stream recycling. “It is difficult for those with automatic sorting equipment to show that any given commodity is pure,” Crockett said.

So far, he said the town is exploring alternatives, including talking with the Maine Resource Recovery Association and Casella Waste Systems, which has locations across the northeast.

If all the items on the warrant are approved as listed, Crockett said the budget totals for the town, including the schools and the Kennebec County assessment, should be $4.68 million, which is about $7,000 higher than the current year.

He called the budget “virtually flat” and said the phrasing in the article covering the roads and highways allows the figures to be changed at the meeting.

“We’ve had very flat funding for roads for many, many, many years,” Crockett said. “There’s an indication that some people might want to spend more.”

The current tax rate in the town is $17.10 for each $1,000 worth of property. “We cannot calculate next year’s rate until after town meeting and after we get the state valuation for the town,” he said in an email on Thursday.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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