Cumberland, North Yarmouth voters OK school budget on 2nd attempt

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CUMBERLAND — The School Administrative District 51 budget, defeated in a tie vote three weeks ago, was approved Tuesday by voters in Cumberland and North Yarmouth.

The budget passed by just more than 100 votes, 757-645, or 54 percent to 46 percent. Total turnout was nearly 16 percent in each town, an increase from about 10 percent in the first referendum on May 26, when the $28 million budget failed in a 415-415 deadlock.

An identical budget was sent to voters for the second time Tuesday, despite hope from some Cumberland residents that the School Board might have increased spending and from some North Yarmouth citizens that the budget would be revised downward.

As in the first election, the budget passed in Cumberland, this time with 523 votes, or 57 percent, in favor and 394 opposed. And for a second time it failed in North Yarmouth, with 251 votes, or 52 percent, opposed and 234 in favor.

Midway through the voting day Tuesday, Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane said he was somewhat disappointed by the turnout, even though it was slightly higher than three weeks ago.

“I would really like to see a commitment from the community,” he said, hoping that the final tally would be more decisive than in May, when it passed in Cumberland by 45 votes and failed in North Yarmouth by the same number. “This is the largest item they get to vote on.”

With an operating budget for fiscal 2010 in hand, the SAD 51 board is expected to begin work quickly in the fall to address the 2011 budget, since further cuts of up to $800,000 are expected in state aid. Board members have vowed to make the process more visible to the public in the early stages after complaints were voiced this year that too much came too quickly at the end of the process.

The $28 million budget includes total job losses of 11 full-time equivalent positions, and requires tax increases in each town. Cumberland taxpayers face a tax increase of 3.4 percent, or 47 cents per $1,000 assessed value. North Yarmouth residents will see an increase of 8.2 percent, or 92 cents, in the mil rate.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or