POLAND — Residents of Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland approved a $17.2 million budget for Regional School Unit 16 on Monday night.
The vote on the amount of additional local funds was 143-28 for approval.
Neither vote reflected the discomfort several people voiced with a budget built eliminating the French language program at Poland Regional High School, a reduced K-6 music program, and one that sent Mechanic Falls and Minot seventh- and eighth-graders to Whittier Middle School in Poland.
“There’s a great deal of confusion on what people can do if they support the music or the French programs. What is the risk of voting no?” Fey Luppi asked.
Superintendent Dennis Duquette said that if people voted no, it would be reducing the budget by $1 million, which would necessitate cutting an additional 20 positions. In effect, he noted, by sending a message they would cause more cuts to be made.
Minot resident Colleen Quint spoke in favor of passage of the budget as presented.
Quint referred to the budget as a balancing act that managed to preserve opportunities for kids while still being fiscally responsible.
“It does what needs to be done, it preserves what we can, given the level of cuts that had to be made,” Quint said.
The budget is $1.1 million lower than this year.
Mechanic Falls voters will see their taxes decrease by $10.04 on $100,000.00 home; Minot residents would see their taxes increase $18.07 on $100,000.00 home; and Poland residents would see their taxes go down $1.92.
The next step in the budget approval process is a referendum Tuesday, May 11, from 4 to 8 p.m. at polling places in the three towns.