SKOWHEGAN  — Residents of School Administrative District 54 approved the proposed $36.7 million school budget for the coming year Tuesday in a final referendum vote.

The vote was 616 in favor of the proposed budget and 292 against it.

The breakdown in favor of the budget in each town was:

• Canaan: 31-44

• Cornville: 32-6

• Norridgewock: 100-22

• Mercer: 23-15

• Skowhegan: 390-198

• Smithfield: 40-7

The full budget figure, at $36,767,926, is up a total of $1,070,339 from the 2018-2019 budget. Of that increase, nearly 88% ($938,748) is a result of rising salaries for the district’s employees. Contracted services, fuel and utility costs, Maine state retirement and unemployment compensation rates account for most of the other increases.

Voters initially approved the budget in a show-of-hands vote in May, setting the stage for Tuesday’s referendum question in Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Smithfield. Just over 230 people participated in the meeting.

All 18 warrant articles passed with little conflict or comment from the crowd May 20. The only written-ballot vote, which was to approve $1,322,791.24 more spending than the state calculated through its Essential Programs and Services allocation model, passed 208-25.

SAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry said in May that he had heard rumors of voters rejecting the spending plan, but he could not understand anyone not liking the proposed budget, with a local assessment of just 0.22% over the current year and state aid at $20,753,958. The school board approved the budget April 25.

Colbry said the overall wage increase in the proposed budget comes in at 2.77%. There are increases in unemployment rates, utility costs, contracted services and Maine state retirement costs totaling $183,748.

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