2014-05-23 / Front Page

Budget approved for June vote

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — About 135 residents in Regional School Unit 21 approved 19 articles outlining the fiscal year 2015 budget at the district’s annual budget meeting Monday.

At approximately $39 million, the 2015 budget is more than $1.7 million higher than this year’s.

Voters in the district will have the opportunity June 10 to vote on the school budget and a question that seeks approval for the district to accept nearly $1.8 million from the state’s Revolving Renovation Fund.

Prior to the approval of the budget, resident Chris Perry requested that the budget be decreased by 5 percent.

“We have been in a solid decade now, of declining school population, yet we are in a continually spiraling upwards budget,” Perry said. “The budget has been, historically, approximately 5 percent greater than the actual. Shouldn’t we reduce it by 5 percent and make it level for the taxpayer?”

Perry made a motion to reduce the budget by 5 percent, but failed to get a second.

The budget approved by voters included expending $16.2 million for regular instruction; $3 million for student and staff support which covers salaries and benefits of departments; $1.7 million for school administration; and $4.1 million for facilities management.

Prior to residents voting for facilities management, Allison Mauer inquired about the full list of deferred maintenance.

Dolloff entertained the crowd when he facetiously said, “$75 million,” in reference to the board’s renovation proposal that was handily voted down by residents in January.

“I think it would be useful to put out a list of deferred maintenance points,” Mauer said.

Voters also approved the district’s appropriation of $535,825 for the “annual payments on debt service previously approved by voters for non-state-funded school construction projects, non-state-funded por- tions of school construction projects and minor capital projects.” This includes the installment of safety systems that the district needs to upgrade, such as sprinkler systems.

School board members Susan Sinnott Curran and Diane Robbins were the only dissenters against Article 12, which allows the district to appropriate about $30 million “for the total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12.”

Divvied up between each municipality, that equals $6.3 million from Arundel, $18.8 million to Kennebunk, and $4.7 million from Kennebunkport.

After the budget meeting, a public hearing was held for the revolving renovation funds granted to the district by the state.

The fund was created by the state to subsidize “high-priority school renovation projects in the areas of life-safety, ADA compliance, hazardous materials removal, structural roof replacement and indoor air quality,” Dolloff wrote in a memo to the district.

The funds are given in the form of a 10- year loan; 30 percent of which is “forgiven with a balance repaid at zero interest.”

The district has been awarded $1,799,421. More than 30 percent, $1,259,595, will be repaid with zero interest.

To the board’s surprise, the question, which was on the January referendum ballot, was voted down by residents event though there is no interest on most of the repayment. The district must use the money by July 31, 2015 or the funds will expire.

“This is cheap money for the district. We need to make sure people understand that there are two questions on the June ballot: The revolving renovation fund, and the budget,” Dolloff said. “The revolving renovation funds are use it or lose it.”

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