RICHMOND — With the town facing a sizable increase to its school budget after withdrawing from Regional School Unit 2, officials say they are looking to reduce the impact on taxpayers.

Residents have largely opposed extensive cuts to the $7.9 million budget at recent public hearings.

Now, voters will be asked at the annual Town Meeting on June 6 whether to use $500,000 of the town’s undesignated funds to help offset the tax increase that’s projected. The Board of Selectmen on Monday approved an article for the town warrant seeking authorization to allocate the funds.

The move comes after the Richmond School Committee last week unanimously approved the school department’s $7,931,485 proposed budget. 

The amount taxpayers are being asked to fund for their new municipal district is up 24.7%, or $957,034, from what Richmond taxpayers contributed to the RSU 2 budget for the current year. If voters approve applying $500,000 of the town’s undesignated funds, that amount of the increase would drop to an 11% hike compared with the current year.

The steep increase mostly stems from the need to fund central office positions, such as a superintendent and special education director, that Richmond previously split with other municipalities in RSU 2. It is also partially driven by community members urging school officials to reincorporate two positions that faced cuts: the district’s technology integrator and RTI, or response to intervention, coordinator. Residents asked the board to not cut those positions, and to not make further cuts, because they said strengthening the Richmond schools was one of the reasons voters opted to withdraw from RSU 2 in November. 


The budget approved by the committee last Thursday is $250,000 higher than the budget last presented to the community at an April 19 public hearing. In addition to the two reincorporated positions, the budget now includes $44,000 to maintain Title I funding and just over $30,000 for another teacher at Marcia Buker Elementary School.

Interim Superintendent Bob Webster told the School Committee last Thursday that if the proposed budget were in any of the communities he previously worked for, it would not pass and urged community members to advocate for the spending plan. 

“It’s uncharted waters,” Webster said. “I have little background or knowledge of Richmond, but I have worked in a number of small towns and this budget would have no chance in Deer Isle or Jackman. But Richmond is special, it appears. I am counting on everyone in this room to do everything they can to convince the public this is important for the future of Richmond.” 

Out of the $7.9 million school budget, the town would have to raise $4,831,514 and would receive $3,099,971 from the state. Richmond raised $3,874,480 for RSU 2 for the current year.

Some selectmen expressed concern Monday about the impact the steep increase could have on taxpayers.

Town Manager Laurisa Loon said at the Board of Selectmen meeting that the tax rate would increase by $2.25 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation from both the town and school budget, as proposed. If the town does not approve the use of $500,000 from undesignated funds, the rate would go up by $3 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.


The Board of Selectmen proposed using the town’s undesignated funds to offset the tax increase because the new school department does not have a carryover fund of unspent money from previous years to use.

Some board members, like Marilynn Grizkewitsch, said they feel hopeful the budget will go down over time and that this year’s particularly high expenses could be chalked up to startup costs in Richmond’s first year separated from RSU 2. But Selectman Randy Bodge said the increase could be impactful to taxpayers “after COVID-19 and inflation” and with some people in town who “still have bills to pay.”

“We are all elected officials,” he said. “We represent every taxpayer, not just 25. Not everyone can afford that.” 

The warrant articles that make up the school’s budget and the municipal budget will be voted on at the annual Town Meeting at Richmond High School on June 6 at 6 p.m. Voters will then be asked to validate the school budget during the June 13 election held at the town office from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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