ANSON — Voters in the four communities comprising Regional School Unit 74 rejected a proposed $10.58 million school budget Tuesday, thus sending the budget back to the district’s board of directors for revisions and another cycle of voter approval.

The budget as proposed includes a 4.86 percent increase and an average increase in costs to taxpayers of 5.37 percent.

It was rejected 166-131 overall. Results by individual town included rejection in Anson, 78-54; Embden, 41-22; and New Portland, 26-18. Only Solon voted in favor of it, 37-21.

“Obviously (the result) is in the negative, so we’ll go back to a special board meeting between now and June and it will be solely to deal with the budget,” RSU 74 Superintendent Mike Tracy said. “At this point I think it’s a responsible budget, so I’ll have to seek the wisdom of the school committee for what they want me to do about it.”

Increases in the proposed $10,583,485 budget include $150,000 in increased special education costs and about $100,000 in increases for deferred maintenance and facilities.

Tracy also has said about $200,000 in new expense comes from annual increases in costs of doing business, including things such as increases in salaries, utilities and insurances.

The district also is receiving $50,000 less in school funding from the state this year compared to last year.

“I think the majority of the feedback I’ve received over the last few months is that the school district’s budget is not sustainable,” Tracy said. “A lot of folks are saying, ‘My taxes are too high,’ and the budget is not sustainable. I agree with them, but on the other side of things, it’s my job to bring the most responsible budget forward that educates kids.”

The amount of money to be raised locally is up $293,721 in the proposed budget and is collected from each town based on a combination of property valuation and enrollment numbers.

Currently, that translates to an  8.7% increase in Anson, 2.35% in Embden, 5.68% in New Portland and in 5% Solon.

In April, the the board of directors moved to reduce $103,000 from what was then a $10.6 million budget and also moved an additional $100,000 from reserve into the budget to help offset increases.

Tracy said the district is not in a good position to cut more and is hoping to add a performing arts teacher at Carrabec High School, where there are currently no music, performing arts or band offerings.

“We’ve asked for about $60,000 for a position,” he said. “We didn’t put in equipment or supplies. All we did was add $60,000 for a position in hopes we could make a performing arts department.”

He said that after a special board meeting is scheduled, the district will aim to set a date for a school budget meeting and referendum, probably in June.

A second referendum question presented to voters Tuesday asked if they wanted to continue the two-step budget validation process consisting of a budget validation meeting followed by a referendum.

That question passed, 184-116 overall, and individually in Anson, 76-55; New Portland, 33-11; and Solon, 45-18. Embden voters barely rejected it, 32-30.

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