PITTSFIELD — School budget referendums in the Mid-Maine area were approved and defeated on Tuesday. Voters in SAD 48 returned an early and affirmative vote for their 1993-94 school budget, but residents in the three-town district of SAD 53 defeated a budget proposal for the second time this year.
About 330 voters in the six towns of SAD 48 — Corinna, Hartland, Newport, Palmyra, Plymouth and St. Albans — approved that district’s $9.7 million budget in five articles.
The vote on individual articles showed little variation. The “yes” vote on the articles ranged from a high of 202 to a low of 183, while “no” votes ranged from 146 to 127.
SAD 48 Superintendent Raymond Freve said Tuesday night that three factors were key to the success of the budget proposal. The late scheduling of the referendum in July and the rain certainly were factors, Freve said, but perhaps the key element in the “extremely light turnout” and the subsequent approval of the budget was the small notation at the bottom of the warrant explanation in the budget report: “Please note that the passing of all articles will keep MSAD 48 local costs at the same level as 1992/93.”
The six towns in the district will raise $2,039,289.60 in local funds for the annual budget, the same amount raised in the previous budget. That figure was achieved despite an apparent loss of more than $350,000 in state subsidy and a decrease in local option funding.
In SAD 53, Burnham, Detroit and Pittsfield, voters again defeated the 1993-94 budget proposal. The decision came despite an increase in state subsidy since the June referendum and a decrease in the proposed expenditures.
Superintendent Terry McCannell, who provided an unofficial return, said the defeat left him with many questions. Voters in Detroit and Pittsfield approved one article, but the total vote on that and all other articles provided a defeat for the full budget. In defeating the budget, voters also appeared to say they didn’t want state subsidy, but refused to raise money for the foundation allocation. The biggest margin of defeat came on the request to raise $1.2 million in local option money, rejecting that proposal 334 to 245, while voting 315 to 268 against authorization to expend the full budget.
“There are no logical reasons to voting all the articles down. It’s a real curiosity,” McCannell said. “This has been a very devastating process. With a referendum there is very little input. The board has received minimal input. With 26 people attending the last informational meeting, there was no forum to get information out. If people don’t ask questions, you can’t give them answers and there was a lot of misinformation out there. People have done a tremendous injustice in voting the budget down. There is just no indication of what people want.