Voters in Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland rejected Regional School Unit 16’s proposed budget for 2011-12 by a vote of 715-436 Tuesday.
Residents who attended the May 11 district budget meeting were fairly evenly divided on their support for an $18.1 million budget that school officials said would require property taxpayers in the three towns to dig about $520,000 deeper into their pockets.
On Tuesday, voters in all three towns had no doubt how they felt about an increase of that magnitude when it came to the budget validation vote.
In Mechanic Falls the vote was 103 in support of the budget and 153 against; in Minot the vote was 139 yes and 229 no; and in Poland, it was 194 in favor and 333 to reject.
A second question on the referendum ballot asked voters whether they believed the budget, as set at the May 11 meeting, was too high or too low.
A total of 772 said the budget was too high; 251 said it was too low.
Judith Akers, Poland town clerk, noted that voter turnout for this year’s referendum was considerably higher than a year ago. Last year, 160 Poland residents cast their ballots in the school budget referendum. This year 527 voted.
“We heard the voters loud and clear,” School Committee Chairman Dave Griffiths said. “We will be meeting again to see where we go from here.”
School Superintendent Dennis Duquette confirmed that the School Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 23, at the Elm Street School.