FARMINGDALE – Monmouth was the lone holdout in passing a 2009-10 school budget, but the town was overruled as its new partners approved it by wide margins.

Monmouth has joined Dresden, Hallowell, Farmingdale and Richmond as Regional School Unit 2 under the state’s school consolidation law.

“I think ours was the only one projected to (lead to) a tax increase,” Monmouth Town Manager Curtis Lunt said Wednesday, the day after the vote. “I think people saw that; that was headline city.”

He said the town’s 234-332 tally could have been in reaction to taxes or unhappiness at the loss of local control. The school budget had been estimated to raise the tax rate by 75 cents per $1,000 of property value.

Superintendent of Schools Donald Siviski in Hallowell said he attended two public hearings in Monmouth and explained to townspeople that because of a recent revaluation, the town’s property value went up and state aid for schools was due to go down as a result. That would have happened whether or not the town joined the school unit.

Siviski estimated the town saved $20,000 this year by joining.

As part of the $24.9 million school budget, Monmouth has to raise $2.29 million; Dresden, $901,992; Farmingdale, $1.17 million; Hallowell, $1.36 million; and Richmond, $1.72 million.

The consolidation of administrative services saved $1.1 million over the schools’ combined budgets for the current fiscal year with programs kept intact and two office positions trimmed, Siviski said. One part-time curriculum coordinator was added.

“I wasn’t surprised at the overall vote,” Siviski said. “I was surprised at how (close in Monmouth) the vote was.” Ninety-eight votes separated the yeas and the nays.

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