FREEPORT – Voters in Durham, Freeport and Pownal approved a $22.7 million budget for Regional School Unit 5 on Tuesday night.

Nearly 400 residents met at Freeport High School to decide 18 spending articles recommended by school directors. The budget covers fiscal year 2009-10, which begins July 1.

The budget reflects a 7 percent increase for Durham taxpayers; just under a 1 percent decrease for Freeport taxpayers; and close to a 26 percent increase for Pownal taxpayers.

The following amounts were approved: student and staff support, $1.85 million; administration, $1.17 million; facilities maintenance, $2.7 million; career and technical education, $285,540; all other expenditures, $280,102; regular instruction, $9.8 million; other instruction, $513,329; system administration, $639,276; transportation and buses, $1.13 million; debt service and other commitments, $1.36 million; special education, $3.04 million.

The final step in the budget approval process is a validation vote scheduled for Thursday, June 25, in each town. Absentee ballots are available at each town office.

Voters will be asked to vote yes or no on a total amount. If a simple majority of voters in all three towns ratify the budget, it is approved.

If the budget is not ratified, state law requires that the board submit a new budget to be voted on at another town meeting. Once approved there, it will be sent again to the voting booths for another referendum vote, a cycle which would be repeated until a budget is enacted. If this occurs after July 1, the last budget adopted by the board of directors would be the operating budget until a new spending plan is validated by voters.

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