HALLOWELL — Regional School Unit 2 unanimously passed its $32.61 million budget for next year in a special board meeting on Thursday night.

Municipal officials criticized the budget earlier in the week and asked the board to find a “Plan B” for the spending out of fear of what the town allocation increase could do to both the municipal budget and resident taxes. The board did not come up with any potential areas to cut if it came down to it.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, RSU 2 school board Chairperson Jon Hamann acknowledged that municipalities’ reaction to the budget proposal “wasn’t positive,” but made it clear it wasn’t the district’s responsibility to ensure the member towns and city could pay for their needs.

“It’s not going over well and we recognize that, but at the same time, we have been really responsible with the budget on the costs side and that’s our responsibility,” Hamann said. “Some of the town managers asked how they are going to pave their roads and buy fire trucks, but that’s not our responsibility to budget for, ours is to provide a budget for RSU 2.

“If the voters don’t want to support it,” he added Tuesday, “we have to figure out how to make substantial cuts.”

RSU 2 board members did not have any further discussion of the budget at Thursday night’s special business meeting.

In a separate 11-1 vote, the board also passed the amount the municipalities will have to raise. Dresden Selectmen Jeffrey Pierce was the sole opposing vote and gave no comment.

The proposal has an increase of 3.12% from this year’s budget and is asking the five RSU 2 towns to raise an extra $1.3 million. The break down among the municipalities is as follows:

• Dresden: $1.9 million, an increase of $155,722 — or 8.8% — from its current $1.7 million.

• Farmingdale: $3 million, an increase of $256,092 — or 9% — from its current $2.8 million.

• Hallowell: $3.4 million, an increase of $227,085 — or 7% — from its current $3.2 million.

• Monmouth: $5.6 million, an increase of $492,431 — or 9.5% — from its current $5.1 million.

• Richmond: $3.7 million, an increase of $259,965 — or 7.4% — from its current $3.4 million.

Ahead of the budget process, in emails obtained by the Kennebec Journal, school board members were looking for more transparency in coronavirus relief funding and how it would potentially play into next year’s budget.

Residents from RSU 2 municipalities will be able to vote on the school budget June 8.

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