Voters approve RSU 5 budget; Pownal elects Giddinge to board

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POWNAL — Erica Giddinge was elected to a one-year term Tuesday on the Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors.

Giddinge received 285 votes to 197 for Paul Benjamin Schulz, to complete the remainder of a three-year term vacated by Naomi Ledbetter, who resigned in March. 

Two uncontested seats on the Board of Selectmen were also on the ballot.

Also on June 12, voters in all three RSU 5 towns overwhelming validated a $33 million school budget for fiscal year 2019. The spending plan passed 2,711 to 1,016.

Individually, the vote was 1,837 to 470 in Freeport, 553-346 in Durham and 321-200 in Pownal.  

Giddinge said she doesn’t have one particular issue that’s a priority, but is looking forward to learning the ropes. 

“I think it’s wonderful and I appreciate the support,” she said Wednesday morning. “I think it will be an interesting adventure.”

Last month, when asked what she thinks the board could improve on, Giddinge replied that there is a “communication issue between the School Committee and community members.”

“We just need someone who can explain why things, such as the tax rate, are the way they are,” she said in May. “I’d just like to help represent Pownal and get information across.”

The two uncontested seats on the Board of Selectmen were for a three-year term and to complete the remaining year in the three-year term of Chairman Tim Giddinge, Giddinge’s husband, who announced in April that he’ll step down from the post effective June 30.

Selectman Jon Morris was re-elected to another three-year term on the board with 467 votes. Shawn Bennett received 459 to complete Giddinge’s term.

Duane Snow ran uncontested and was elected to a three-year term on the Cemetery Commission.

The RSU 5 budget, which represents a more than $747,000, or 2.3 percent, increase from current spending, is expected to raise taxes district-wide by 4 percent.

Under the spending plan, the impact would be the greatest in Pownal: 3.8 percent, or 66 cents. Freeport’s tax would increase 3 percent, or 45 cents per $1,000 of valuation. In Durham, the increase would be 0.9 percent, an 18-cent increase. 

Finance Director Michelle Lickteig said individual town tax rate increases are only estimates and will likely not be known until late September, the estimated tax impact is based on the current tax rate of $14.95 in Freeport, $18.85 in Durham and $17.25 in Pownal. 

In less than 30 minutes on May 23, 28 Freeport residents, six from Pownal and 16 from Durham, showed support for 20 budget articles during the district’s annual budget meeting at Durham Community School.

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Giddinge

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