RSU 19 voters to take up school loan next week

11:26 PM, Jan 8, 2013   |    comments
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NEWPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- After months of dealing with a massive school budget shortfall, voters in RSU 19 will now decide on another plan to get out of it.

Next Tuesday, residents in Newport and the district's other seven towns will decide whether to take out a $2.9 million loan. School administrators say that should help lift a spending freeze in RSU 19 that's been in place since last summer.

District leaders say it was accounting errors by past administrators that caused this budget crisis. Since the beginning of this school year, RSU 19 has had to cut about $1.6 million in spending to deal with it. The superintendent and school board still feel that the only way to escape the shortfall is to borrow money.

At a budget comittee meeting at Nokomis Regional High School on Tuesday night, district residents voted to send the loan question to the polls next week. School administrators say the $2.9 million loan should help the district pay off more than a million dollars in expenses from last school year, pay outstanding bills for this year and leave enough money to work with for next year.

161 people voted to send the loan proposal to the polls next week. 47 others voted against it. Many who spoke before the decision said their concern was higher property taxes.

"There comes a point where people in the community can't afford anymore...we're at that point folks.," said Neal Strong of Plymouth, who was one of the many in attendance that rose to speak during discussion, "Now I appreciate you {the administration} trying to cut things down...but we gotta do more."

"It's just not feasible to solve this through cutting," remarked Greg Potter, who is the superintendent of RSU 19, "We can't ask the voters to raise an additional amount of money to get there either so the loan idea is the most feasible solution."

RSU 19 has been in this situation before. On Election Day voters rejected taking out a $3.6 million loan to deal with the shortfall. That led to the district having to cut $700,000 from this year's school budget.

Polling locations will be open around RSU 19 next Tuesday for the referendum beginning at 8 a.m.


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