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Revised Madawaska school budget passes first hurdle

MADAWASKA, Maine — Voters passed the revised $6.3 million school budget at a public hearing Tuesday evening, July 26, according to School Superintendent Gisele Dionne. Approximately 50 residents attended the hearing to review and vote on the school budget.

Residents passed most budget warrant articles by a simple show-of-hands vote. Article 12, which calls for raising additional local funds for the school, passed via written ballot by a vote of 27 to 19, according to Town Clerk Amy Ouellette.

Madawaska voters turned down the first nearly $6.4 million budget at referendum on June 14. The town uses a two-step school budget approval process.

Now that the budget has passed the public hearing stage, a formal secret ballot referendum vote is set to take place August 16.

Going largely against the recommendations of the town’s finance committee, school committee members voted July 19 in favor of the latest budget revisions Dionne presented. Since it failed to pass at the June referendum, Dionne has revised the budget to include updated revenue projections, shaving an additional $127,000 from the local tax commitment.

Members of the finance committee have expressed concern that this will not be enough to satisfy voters, and that additional cuts could be made. Last week the Madawaska Board of Selectpersons approved looking into using town undesignated funds to help with the school budget shortfall and cushion any resulting property tax increase.

The board has called for a special town meeting, 6 p.m., Tuesday, August 2 at the Madawaska High School library, to ask voters if they would approve expending up to $200,000 in undesignated funds to help offset an increase in the mill rate this year, due to a shortfall in the school budget.

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