LEWISTON — In a very low turnout, voters approved the school budget Tuesday for the second time since May 2013.

Early returns showed the vote was 173-26 in favor of the $58.4 million school budget for 2013-14, City Clerk Kathy Montejo said.

The budget needed to be voted on again because it was approved before legislators passed the state budget in June. The state budget included $409,000 for Lewiston. That money was not in the May budget.

According to state rules, voters need to approve any additional money not in the previous budget.

Superintendent Bill Webster said he was “thankful of the voters of Lewiston,” pleased and relieved the budget passed. “This will allow us to meet the financial obligations without cuts.”

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, about 100 residents had voted, Montejo said from the Longley school gym where there was rarely more than one or two people in voting booths. Voting picked up slightly after 5 p.m.

Overall turnout Tuesday was 0.8 percent of the 24,546 voters in Lewiston, Montejo said.

Unmotivated voters probably was one reason for the low turnout, she said.

“Their tax money isn’t changing. The budget isn’t raising any additional money, the referendum is needed to appropriate the money from the state. People may look at this as a formality.”

And, winter is an unusual time for an election, Montejo said. “It’s pouring rain outside; that’s keeping people away.”

Additionally, there may not have been a lot of publicity about the referendum, and people may not have understood the need for the vote, she said.

Former City Councilor John Butler showed up to vote, predicting the turnout would be less than 250. He said he voted “because it’s every citizen’s responsibility to vote. I’ve never missed an election or primary.”

Joanne Blais, who cast her ballot, agreed. “I always vote. It’s my civic duty.”

She said she voted in favor of the budget. “I have no concerns about school spending.”

When the first budget was approved May 15, 2013, with a 346-276 vote, voter turnout was 2.5 percent, or 625 out of 24,000 registered voters.

There was no minimum number of votes needed Tuesday.


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