MEXICO – At Region 9’s School of Applied Technology budget vote on Tuesday night, it took more time to vote and swear in moderator David Austin than it did to approve a proposed $1.9 million budget for fiscal 2009.

Two minutes after that five-minute process – and without discussion – 42 voters from the 16-town vocational school region OK’d the budget, which represents about a 46-percent increase over this year’s $1.3 million.

Two minutes later and the 42 were joined by two dissenters from the first vote for unanimous approval of Region 9’s $295,520 adult and community education budget.

“In the face of budget growth, it was certainly gratifying to have the widespread support we had tonight,” board Chairman Norman Clanton said after the meeting.

“It would be nice to see 300 people come to one of these (budget) meetings, but to have 45 people come and be supportive, I take it to mean that we’re on the right track.”

Clanton, who represents SAD 44, said many of those who voted were not associated with Region 9.

“Many of them were citizens from across our communities, which was great. I was also pleased with the numbers here, which were significantly larger than what we’ve had in the past,” he said.

The steep budget hike is due to an under-construction $4.9 million renovation and addition building project, the ambiance of which provided the setting for Tuesday’s vote inside the school cafeteria. One wall was unfinished and several ceiling tiles were missing or askew. Construction dust dulled the floor’s finish.

“It was the only large space we had available, because the building is under construction,” Clanton said.

Of the $600,547 difference between the coming school year’s $1,896,087 budget and this year’s $1,295,540, $466,000 will go for loan payments. Much of the remaining increase will pay for new programs in automotive technology and early childhood development.

Costs for each member district and unaffiliated town are: SAD 21, $560,658, 40 students; SAD 43, $810.909, 63 students; SAD 44, $474,865, 40 students; Gilead, $7146; Hanover, $21,746, four students; and Upton, $3,761.

Neither Gilead nor Upton had students enrolled in April 2007, the date of the other student figures in Region 9’s proposed budget documents.

The adult and community education budget is up about 16 percent from this year’s $253,442 budget. Added costs due to the renovation and addition project account for most of that increase.

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