Voters in Lewiston and Auburn approved school budgets Tuesday during a special budget referendum in each city.
Lewiston voters approved the budget 419-76. In Auburn, the budget passed by a vote of 246-43.
Despite low turnouts, those who did go to the polls said they wanted the referendum that gives them a yes or no vote on spending to continue for three years.
Lewiston voters said yes to a continued budget referendum, 274-218; Auburn voters said yes, 163-122.
In Lewiston, the new K-12 budget that begins July 1 is $50.64 million, about $500,000 less than the current budget. The budget will not raise property taxes. It eliminates 11 teaching positions, some by attrition.
Auburn's school budget is $32.75 million, about $30,000 less than current spending. It also will not raise property taxes. It eliminates six positions — three administrators and three teachers — all by attrition.
One reason for the low turnout was because voters are satisfied, Lewiston voter Diane Grandmaison said. “If there was a big protest, you'd see more people. There was no big protest, so you don't see the people. It's just the ones who have a stake in it.”
With few people voting, election workers said the day was slow and long.
“We've had less than 300 voters,” Auburn City Clerk Mary Lou Magno said shortly after 6 p.m. That number was a record low, she said. “Last year we had 304 voters. I don't know if we'll get that.”
Auburn didn't. The total turnout was 289, or 1.8 percent of registered voters. “It's very sporadic,” Magno said. “Usually, the busy time is between 4 and 6:30.” But voters were trickling in.
In Lewiston, voter turnout was 2.1 percent, higher than last year's record low of 1.7 percent, City Clerk Kathleen Montejo said.
Each city held voting at one location and counted ballots by hand to keep costs down.
At the Lewiston Multi-Purpose Center, parking spaces lined Birch Street with voter-only parking signs. At 5:30 p.m., all of the parking spaces were empty.
“This is usually our busiest time,” Assistant City Clerk Jessica Hanscombe said.
Under the state law, the referendum will continue in Lewiston and Auburn for three more years, when voters will be asked again whether they want to continue the referendum.