On May 7, I received a request from the Lewiston School Department to vote on May 10 for a 2.44 percent increase in its proposed budget. That 2.44 percent equals $1,236,812. That is a lot of money.
The budget explanation: “The reduction in local property taxes is necessary in order to keep the mill rate unchanged.” It goes on to say that it was the increased state subsidy that kept the mill rate down.
So, what did the school board do for the Lewiston taxpayer? Here is what I found in the budget document on the website: ELL instruction, up 23.67 percent; special education tuition, up 25.4 percent; vocational education, administration, up 10.5 percent; vocational education, accounting, up 11.74 percent; automotive, up 40.76 percent; secondary co-curricular, up 10.65 percent (what is this?); student assessment, up 45.03 percent. And my favorite: school board, up 75.99 percent. Way to go, school board!
My complaint is about the timeliness of the budget validation request. Had I received it one week prior, I might have been able to educate myself, and the above questions may have gone away, except for the last one.
Unfortunately, with all of these unexplained increases, I voted “no.” Perhaps the board will make changes for next year.
On the way out after voting, I spoke with two people and showed them the increases. They were upset and clearly would have voted differently.
Peter Grenier, Lewiston