Over 70 residents gathered Tuesday night at Richmond High School to participate in the annual Town Meeting. Emily Duggan/Kennebec Journal

RICHMOND — Voters passed $7.9 million school and $2.1 million town budgets during the annual Town Meeting on Tuesday night.

The annual budget meeting was the first one the town has had in person since the pandemic and gathered quite a turn out, with 76 residents filling almost every chair in the Richmond High School gym.

The 61 warrant articles broke down as 44 municipal and 17 for the school department.

With some minor adjustments, the amount passed to be raised by the town for the municipal side of the budget is $2,137,775. The town will have to raise an additional $4.8 million for the local portion of the inaugural Richmond School Department budget.

The budget sparked conversation on the $1 million increase the town will have to pay now that the Richmond School Department is its own district. Interim Superintendent Bob Webster said he estimates the town paid $3.8 million as a part of Regional School Unit 2.

Resident O’Neal LaPlante told the town to “give the school board a chance” as other residents piped in about the high budget costs in comparison to last year’s budget. He explained there are some fixed costs from the state that the school committee can’t control.


“We have to give the school board a chance and administration a chance to level it off from year to year and once we get in the second year, it will level off, and then we can control what is going on,” LaPlante said. “No one wants to tell you that you need $1 million extra to fund the schools, but when it was proposed to get out of the RSU 2, a lot of people signed those petitions and a lot of people voted for it, so we should at least give the people who voted for it a chance.”

The state will contribute $3,099,971 to the school department and Richmond will have to raise $2.1 million in the local contribution. These portions of the budget cover the programs the state deems essential in order for students to meet Maine’s academic standards.

Voters also approved raising $2.7 million in local additional funds, which will support other aspects of the school budget such as extra teachers and ed techs.

School Committee member John Pratte said because the district is not an official school district until July 1, they could not apply for grants they would likely be eligible for next year, which would also help lower the cost of future budgets.

Loon said the increase for the school portion of the budget would be $300 a year for a home valued at $167,000.

The municipal town budget was passed with an adjustment to the Department of Public Works portion of the budget, which was lowered to $405,834 to support the budget committee’s recommendation for smaller employee pay raises.


Lowering 9% raises to 5% dropped the proposed Public Works spending more than $14,000, with voters agreeing to raise $405,834 instead of $420,051.

Though the department is fully staffed, Selectman Brian York explained the decision behind the higher 9% pay raise was because of the ongoing “challenge” in finding public works employees if the department were to lose an employee. The budget committee recommended a “blanket” 5% raise and ultimately, the town agreed.

The adjustment to Public Works dropped the proposed $2.9 million budget down to $2,897,556. The budget was then lowered even more after voters passed Article 44 which appropriates $500,000 from the unassigned balance to lower the tax commitment.

That half million, along with the $138,625 in Tax Increment Financing district funds, lowers the amount to be raised by the town for the municipal budget to $2,137,775. The original proposed amount for the budget was $2.9 million.

The remainder of the 44 municipal articles passed as proposed.

Article 57, a written ballot question to approve $2,705,896 in additional local funds for the school district passed 58-18.

Though the municipal spending plan is now set, the next hurdle for the school budget comes June 13 during the annual budget validation referendum, where voters must vote on the budget as a whole.

That day the town is also expected to fill several positions, including two selectmen, two budget committee and a Richmond Utilities District position, all for three-year terms.

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