READFIELD — Regional School Unit 38 voters easily approved the proposed spending plan of $18,591,474 during the district’s public hearing Wednesday at Maranacook Community High School.

This plan is $671,224 — or 3.75% — more than the current budget of $17,920,250.

The budget validation referendum vote on this spending plan will take place June 11 in all towns in the district.

In January, Maranacook district residents approved a 15-year, $5.8 million facility improvement bond for school improvements. The spending plan budgeted money for the first interest payment of that bond, but because the work has not been done, it was budgeted under school maintenance. Bond payments the district is making this year, budgeted as debt service, include middle school construction from 2001, high school renovations from 2003 and athletic fields from 2001.

Local contributions, according to the plan, would be:

• Manchester: $4,270,776, a 4.01% increase of $164,599;

• Mount Vernon: $3,200,594, a 2.02% increase of $63,270;

• Readfield: $3,710,394, a 4.31% increase of $153,434; and

• Wayne: $2,363,049, a 6.49% increase of $144,052.

How the school district’s spending plan will affect the tax rate in each of the towns is unknown, because Kennebec County government and municipal budgets are not final. The district also is awaiting word on its state funding for next fiscal year.

Three factors determine how much each of the towns contribute to the school’s spending plan.

First, Essential Programs and Services determines how much each town must raise through its tax rate. Second, towns must pay local debt in the district, which is divided among the towns based on a cost-sharing formula. Finally, additional local funds are split up among the town based on the same cost-sharing formula, which is determined by population and state valuations.

The state valuation of Manchester is $328,600,000; Mount Vernon, $251,700,000; Readfield, $274,950,000; and Wayne, $198,800,000.

Wednesday’s hearing, attended by 49 voters, was moderated by Richard Spencer. Voters approved each of the 20 articles, all without a vote cast against them.

“I’m old enough to remember when these meetings were filled with anxiety,” Readfield resident Alexander McPhederan said during the hearing, encouraging voters to make sure the budget passes during the referendum. “There are boundless people in the town who won’t want this to pass.”

Manchester resident and parent Richard Fein acknowledged McPhederan’s memories of fiery budget hearings. He is a 19-year resident of Manchester, and his son, Gabe Fein, will graduate from the district this year.

“I remember this being fraught with different opinions,” Fein said, adding he was not surprised by the ease of this year’s budget approval. “I think people come now with the idea in mind that they’ll support (the spending plan).”


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