When Richmond voters head to their polling place in March, they will have a chance to decide by secret ballot whether to investigate if their town should withdraw from Regional School Unit 2.

On Monday, at a joint meeting with the Richmond Budget Committee, the Board of Selectmen approved both the wording of the warrant article and a budget of $50,000 to pay the costs of the investigation if voters approve moving ahead.

Those costs could include legal services, clerical work or staff work in determining the costs of withdrawal, Richmond Town Manager Adam Garland said.

“Based on the research I’ve done and the people I’ve spoken to, $50,000 is a good amount,” he said. “I don’t get too worked up about whether it’s enough money or not, because we don’t have to spend all the money and it’s coming from undesignated fund balance. And if we find we’re into the process and we don’t have enough money, we can always ask to appropriate more funds.”

This is just the second step of a lengthy 22-step process spelled out in state law that towns wishing to leave their school districts must follow.

In November, residents submitted a petition seeking to start the withdrawal process.

Because the petition was submitted, the selectmen are obligated to put the matter before Richmond voters, who will decide whether to continue investigating what leaving the district might entail. They are also obligated to set aside money to pay the costs of that investigation, which is likely to include legal services.

RSU 2 encompasses Richmond, Monmouth, Dresden, Farmingdale and Hallowell. The district was among the first formed a decade ago after state lawmakers enacted the school district reorganization law. It was intended to cut costs and increase the efficiency of education.

The withdrawal process includes conducting a public hearing before the initial vote takes place. That public hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 10.

If voters opt to pursue withdrawing, a committee would be appointed to work through the remaining steps of the process, which could take at least 18 months. Its work would include establishing how much town residents may have to pay to the leave the district and, Garland said, establishing a proposed budget for the first year of a Richmond-only district.

Selectman Robert Bodge said even if residents vote to pursue withdrawal, the town could opt out before the final vote.

The vote is expected to take place on March 3. That’s also the date of the statewide Democratic primary, the same time voters will have a chance to weigh in on a people’s veto of the new law that removes religious and philosophical exemptions to requiring immunization against some diseases for children attending schools and colleges and employees of nursery schools and health care facilities.

Richmond voters will also decide whether to extend the town’s pipeline TIF district for 10 years.


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