RSU 5 budget passes, despite failing in Durham, Pownal

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FREEPORT — Regional School Unit 5 voters Tuesday approved a $32.2 million budget for fiscal year 2018 that will increase the district tax rate 5.25 percent.

Nearly 73 percent of voters backed the budget, which represents a 4 percent increase over current spending. But it carried on the strength of support in Freeport; the proposal was defeated in Pownal and Durham.   

Incumbent Kathryn Brown was also re-elected to a third term as one of two Pownal representatives to the RSU 5 Board of Directors. She defeated challenger Lisa Pardus, 118-41.

Highlights of the budget, which passed 875-591 Tuesday, includes funding to expand preschool offerings across the district and a new middle school teacher in Freeport.

Brown, 36, is a Pownal Elementary School parent and works part time as an environmental consultant in South Portland.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my service for the town of Pownal,” she said after the results came in Tuesday night. 

Often voting with the minority on board decisions, she characterized herself last month as a voice for Pownal residents who don’t always feel “welcome at the table” within the greater district.

Her challenger was an active volunteer in the school who has never held elected office. Her platform mirrored Brown’s calls for fiscal responsibility.

Freeport, which approved the budget 620-233, will see an increase of just over 3.5 percent in the town’s tax rate.

Pownal and Durham voters rejected the budget, 112-71 and 246-184, respectively. The budget will increase Pownal’s tax rate by 5.8 percent, and Durham’s by 3 percent.

The budget was built on the assumption that the district would not receive funding from the state unless the Legislature revises Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget and allocates more money to education.

The district could reclaim up to $200,000 in subsidy, which the Board of Directors previously voted to use as property tax relief. Per state statute, the board had the option of using the money for tax relief, to restore cuts to the budget, or roll it forward into a reserve fund balance.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or