L-A voters say yes to school budgets, referendum

Voters in Lewiston and Auburn approved school budgets Tuesday during a special budget referendum in each city.

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

Peter Geiger of Lewiston checks over his ballot before placing it in the box at the Lewiston Multi-Purpose Center on Tuesday. Lewiston city clerk Kathy Montego said voting was slow and that fewer than 100 voters had cast their ballots on the school budget by 10 a.m.

In Lewiston: Proposed K-12 school budget: $50.64 million, about $500,000 less than existing budget. Eleven teaching positions eliminated, some by attrition. Impact on city taxes: No increase.

In Auburn: Proposed budget: $32.75 million, about $30,000 less than existing budget. Six positions eliminated, all by attrition. Impact on city taxes: No increase.

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.

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JUDY MEYER's picture

Sun Journal story

The Sun Journal wrote extensively about the budget during budget deliberations over the past several months, including reporting the date of the vote multiple times. We  published a story reminding voters to go to the polls in Monday's newspaper. That story, which also reported that Lewiston mailed reminders and Auburn sent reminders home with students, appeared on the front of the City section.

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Reason agrees with Low Turnout from 123abc

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Reason believes that there just wasn't enough noise raised about the budget.  However, we also find that the sun journal did not to our knowledge remind the public that this vote was upcoming.  If we missed that notice, we apologize.

Lucky is the budget that can absorb cuts and remain level.  Do not expect this to happen next year, or the year after. It can not happen year after year without significant damage to the educational process.

We still say that combining EL and Lewiston in Lewiston's huge building is better for the taxpayers of Auburn.  Why?  Because then Auburn pays tuition for the students to go to Lewiston, and avoids the multimillion dollar burden of a New High School unless the people of Auburn are so locked into the color red or a tradition of sports.  Think of the power in sports that a combined basketball team or football or even baseball team would have and the chance to win state championships year after year.  Oh, I digress.  Parents live vicariously through their kids so that will never happen.  God, if you cut a kid that had been primed for years to be Daddy's little hero or heroin then hell would be raise.  However, there is also another alternative.  St. Dom's who would well enjoy an influx of money and athletic talent in its ranks.  Be wise Auburn, forget the chance to build another high school and let's make the high school kids tuition students.  This will keep taxes down as EL is NOT ON THE LIST to have state reimbursement of 95% or more paid by the state.  Also consider that the state is in financial trouble and this list may not exist or will be postponed for years.   Reason says grab the financial opportunity while it exist.  OH THERE IS ONE DRAWBACK, as always.!!!  LEWISTON has to vote to accept those former EL students and the AUBURN MONEY.    Reason DOUBTS that LEWISTON is smart enough to see the benefit in such a plan.  REASON WITH ME>>>>


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