Brunswick voters accept $32.3M school budget

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BRUNSWICK — Voters on Tuesday overwhelming approved a $32.3 million school spending plan for fiscal 2011.

They also retained the school budget validation process. 

According to unofficial results, voters approved the spending plan 3,691 to 1,179, a 3-to-1 margin. Additionally, 71 percent of voters supported the school budget validation vote, which means the town will continue to vote on the budget for another three years.

According to Town Clerk Fran Smith, 4,451 of Brunswick’s registered voters went to the polls, a 28 percent turnout.

The school budget represents more than 60 percent of a $53.4 million budget ratified by the Town Council, and about 1 percent of a 1.46 percent increase in property taxes, bumping the mil rate from $22.54 per $1,000 of assessed value to $22.87.

The school spending plan is about $55,500 more than the state’s Essential Program and Services recommendation.

The school budget represents a 2.13 percent decrease from current spending. The tax increase is driven largely by a $3.5 million revenue loss, 69 percent of which is due to a sharp cut in state education aid.

The plan also includes the elimination of several teaching and administrative positions, and the elimination of freshman sports funding. The latter represented a $42,000 reduction, but generated organized resistance in the final stages of the budget process, prompting coaches and school officials to propose an alternative plan to retain the activities.

In addition, the district is cutting $120,000 from its technology department and more than $114,600 from its substitute teacher, overtime and supply budgets.

Six of the district’s 10 spending areas will experience reductions from current spending. Two areas will increase significantly: administration (9.6 percent) and debt service (58 percent). The latter is driven by the construction of the new elementary school.

Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said administration increased because one employee will be doing two jobs: curriculum coordinator and principal of the new Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School.

Tuesday’s unofficial results yielded few surprises for primary races for governor and state referendum questions.

Voters narrowly voted against Question 1, 2,570 to 2,523. The people’s veto asked Mainers to repeal the tax reform law passed in 2009.

Voters overwhelmingly approved four bond questions, including Question 4, which will help fund a new campus for Southern Maine Community College at Brunswick Naval Air Station. 

Among Democratic candidates running for governor, Steve Rowe captured about 35 percent of the 2,509 Brunswick Democrats who cast ballots. State Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell was second with just over 32 percent, followed by Rosa Scarcelli (17 percent) and Patrick McGowan (13 percent).

Brunswick resident John Richardson, who withdrew from the race after failing to qualify for Maine Clean Elections Funding, but remained on the ballot, received a little over 4 percent of the votes cast.

Paul LePage was the lead voter-getter among Republican gubernatorial candidates, grabbing about 34 percent of the 1,714 ballots cast by Brunswick GOP voters. Peter Mills was second with 17 percent, followed by Les Otten (15 percent) and Steve Abbott (14 percent).

The other GOP candidates were well off the pace.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or