When Monmouth residents head to the polls Tuesday, the fate of Monmouth Midde and Henry L. Cottrell Elementary schools will be in their hands.

Voters will decide whether the town should accept ownership of the buildings — and pay for their maintenance.

Regional School Unit 2 is replacing the schools with a new consolidated school, scheduled to open in January, and the old facilities could be given to the town.

If residents choose to keep the schools, the town would set aside $75,000 to maintain them until it decides what to do with the buildings.  If residents oppose ownership, the district will dispose of the buildings as it sees fit.

A school reuse task force, developed by the town, has been studying options for the buildings, including whether they should be used, sold or demolished. Among some of the suggestions given to the group include using them as a community center, rental property or vocational facility.

To make a more informed decision, the town hired Mike McCormick, of McCormick Facilities Management, to assess the buildings’ condition. What did he find? “The buildings are tired,” McCormick told residents at a January informational meeting.


In addition to the school choice, voters also will consider approval of a $3,292,177 spending plan. The budget includes a $125,094 — or 3.94% — increase in spending from the current fiscal year’s $3,167,083 spending.

“We all face the same pressures everyone else does,” Town Manager Curtis Lunt said. “Increased prices are passed on to us.”

Anticipated revenue for the town, $1,203,500, also is increasing; that is a $60,150 — 5.26% — increase from the current fiscal year’s $1,143,350.

Lunt attributes a significant part of the revenue increase to excise tax — predicted to be $800,000 — that is $70,000, or 9.59% more than the current fiscal year’s projected $730,000 in excise tax.

The town’s current tax rate is $17.55 per $1,000 of assessed property value. While Lunt predicted the tax rate increase to be around 2.5%, which would be 44 cents per $1,000, he was uncertain because the Regional School Unit 2 school district budget has not yet been approved.

Residents also will be asked to approve spending $122,500 on capital improvements. That amount represents a $25,500 — or 26.28% — more than the $97,000 in capital improvements approved for the current fiscal year.


“We don’t spend enough in capital,” Lunt said.

Among the capital expenses are $52,500 for public works equipment, including a solid waste trailer and pickup truck for plowing parking lots; $34.000 for a new police car; $30,000 for painting and roof repair at Cumston Hall; and $6,000 to build a shed at the fire station.

Another article on the ballot is about consideration of a 10-year, $350,000 bond to build a sidewalk on Beach Road and reconstruct an existing sidewalk on Maple Street. The loan would be funded with money in the Main Street Tax Increment Finance District fund.

In addition to the financial questions, voters also will choose among candidates for a number of boards. Those include the Board of Selectmen — incumbents Harold Jones III and Timothy McDonald are competing with each other and Angela Nagle and Donna Seppy for two seats — as well as the RSU 2 board of directors, the Cumston Library board of trustees, the Cumston Hall board of trustees, and the Monmouth Sanitary board of trustees.

Voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Cumston Hall.

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