AUBURN — A check of the numbers Wednesday showed the vote on the school budget, unofficially a tie Tuesday night, was 349-344 — with five fewer no votes than initially reported.
Acting City Clerk Sue Clements-Dallaire said Wednesday that a review of the numbers revealed an error was made when the tally sheets were totaled.
Taxpayer advocate Ron Potvin has requested an official recount, and has asked that it be held Friday.
Potvin, who was the lone voice opposing the higher budget at a hearing this year, said he filed for a recount because the vote was so close.
It seemed odd, Potvin said, that Tuesday night the vote was a tie, “then all of a sudden," the vote was lopsided. Tuesday's unofficial tally was reported as 349-349.
The $35.9 million school budget — up from the current $34.7 million budget — would go into effect July 1. Of the $35.9 million, most would come from state aid to eduction. About $15.4 million would come from property-tax payers.
What's being asked of Auburn taxpayers is nearly a 5 percent increase. A homeowner with property valued at $150,000 would pay $66 more in taxes for the year.
Superintendent Katy Grondin said Wednesday she was happy the budget passed.
“I wish we had a stronger turnout," she said. "However, it still has passed, which is good for the students of Auburn and the community as a whole.”
School Committee Chairman Tom Kendall also said it was unfortunate that so few people voted. “It would be nice to have a larger percentage of the population voicing their opinion. We have 3,600 students, at least 3,600 parents. Where are they?”
The small number of votes did not send a message, Kendall said. “There's no mandate.”
Grondin said that as the budget developed, she was mindful of taxpayers and the tough economic times. She proposed a budget that continued funding for more individualized learning. The spending plan includes two new positions: a speech pathologist and an education technician.
The teachers' union worked with the School Department and only received a 1 percent pay increase, Grondin said. Some higher expenses, including fuel, “were out of our control,” she said.
The budget maintains student services and programs, and provides iPad tablet computers for next year's kindergartners and first-graders. Grondin has said that Auburn spends $8,050 per pupil, below the state average of $9,623. This budget is the first time in three years that more was asked of local taxpayers, she said.