Count finds Auburn school vote a tie

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Allison Michaud, 3, looks to her grandfather, Larry Irwin, as she leaves the voting booth with her grandmother, MaryEllen Irwin. The Irwins voted on the Auburn school referendum Tuesday at Auburn Hall.

AUBURN — School referendum voters turned out Tuesday for a dead heat.

Voters will be heading back to the ballot boxes if the unofficial results for the school budget vote hold true. Acting City Clerk Sue Clements-Dallaire said the vote ended in a tie — with 349 residents on either side of the proposed $35.9 million budget for 2012-13.

"We don't have any answers at this point. This is kind of a first," Clements-Dallaire said late Tuesday night. "We'll need to go over the paperwork and make sure everything is added correctly."

Clements-Dallaire said if Wednesday's official results after reviewing the paperwork still result in a tie, it will likely mean a recount and possibly a second vote on the proposed budget.

The budget is slated to begin July 1 with $15.4 million coming from Auburn property taxpayers. That represents an increase of $844,925, which means a homeowner with property valued at $150,000 would pay $66 more a year in taxes, according to the Auburn School Department.

"I really believe that we put together a fiscally responsible budget," Superintendent Katy Grondin said Tuesday night. "The result of not getting increases over the last three years did make an impact. Taxes have gone up in Auburn, but not due to supporting education."

Clements-Dallaire and Grondin were surprised by the vote. The next steps for the district will be determined once the city clerk's office verifies the count and releases the official results. It could mean a recount of the votes, another election or a return to the referendum drawing board for the School Committee, which would start the whole process over again.

According to Grondin, of the 349 citizens who voted down the proposed budget, 43 responded in the follow-up question that they voted "no" because they wanted to see more money in the school budget.

"They have a right to say that they wanted more money in the school budget, so you have to appreciate that," Grondin said.

She previously said that the proposed spending plan maintains all student services and programs. The increase addresses only the most critical areas — including giving iPad tablet computers to this year's kindergarten students and adding two positions.

Grondin has said that Auburn spends $8,050 per pupil, below the state average of $9,623.

ahannon@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Michael Hiscock's picture

My Vote

My vote would have gone differently if the iPads weren't in there. I would be happy to see an increase and pay a little more in taxes for my kids education if not for them. When I don't have the money for something, I go without. Maybe the school and city should do the same. Wall-E is our kids obviuos future.

Jeff Johnson's picture

iPads

Mike,
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the money for the iPads does not come from the taxpayers. It's written into a federal and state grant, and doesn't get included in your local property taxes. While the iPads are in the budget, the money is already accounted for.

Michael Hiscock's picture

The iPads for last year were

The iPads for last year were supposed to be a grant also but never came through, so those came out of last years budget. This years are coming out of the budget, that is why they are added into it in the first place. They might be going for a grant but that would only repay for them IF it comes through. If it doesn't, it still comes out of the budget.

Michael Hiscock's picture

The other obvious thing, is

The other obvious thing, is that if the vote was that close, that means half the voters aren't happy with the budget. On a recount, if you find one extra vote one way or the other, shouldn't mean the vote stands. Rework and revote to win more of a majority one way or the other to get people to accept the budget. Dump iPads and get back to basics in the younger grades.

Joe Gray's picture

How does Superintendent Grondin know how people voted?

Was there an official release of the votes? How does the superintendent know how people voted? Can she tell us for certain that 43 people voted both "no" and to increase the budget? Did some who voted yes still mark the "increase the budget" box? How does she know?

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