MEXICO — The Region 9 School of Applied Technology board on Wednesday reviewed draft 2014-15 budgets for the secondary and adult education programs that show a slight increase for one and a decrease for the other.

Voters will decide May 7 on a $2.13 million secondary budget, which is up just over $18,000 from this year. The adult education budget of $298,603 is down just over $13,000.

Region 9 Director Brenda Gammon said the secondary budget includes 2 percent salary increases for most employees, an estimated 8 percent increase in health insurance premiums, less interest on the building’s mortgage, the purchase of a small bus and adjustments to unemployment.

The carryover from the previous budget was increased to $80,000.

Vice Chairman Kevin Kaulback said overall requests from staff were down from the current year and board member Betty Barrett said virtually all large equipment needs are up-to-date.

Barrett, of Mexico, said the board can be assured that students from the three sending high schools, River Valley in Rumford, Dirigo in Dixfield and Telstar Regional in Bethel, can get one of the best educations for a small vocational school.

“I wish more people would visit and if their child is ready for high school, have that child visit,” she said.

Nancy Allen, adult and community education director, said the slight decrease in her budget is due to a staff member taking a lower-cost health insurance option, and fewer postage and enrichment instructor costs.

The board is expected to act on a final budget April 2. Public hearings on both budgets will be held at 6 p.m. March 19 at Telstar Regional High School and at 7:30 p.m. at the Region 9 school.

Residents may vote on the adopted figure at 6 p.m. May 7.

The board also changed the time for the start of meetings, beginning on May 7, to 6 p.m. from 6:30 p.m. It meets the first Wednesday of each month.

In other matters:

* Gammon said an audit report by Berry Talbot Royer of Falmouth showed that some of the school’s internal controls and procedures, such as bank reconciliations, disbursement, timecards and cross-training should be improved. Gammon said a plan for making the changes has been approved by the auditing firm.

* Facilities Committee member Paul Handlen said the committee is pursuing the possibilities of hooking into an expected natural gas pipeline and solar energy. Board member Frank DiConzo, a Rumford selectman, said Region 9 has been submitted as an entity interested in hooking up to natural gas. He said a public forum for people in the River Valley will be held once a decision by the gas company has been finalized.

* Handlen introduced Albany Township resident Callie Pecunies, a Democrat running for the newly created legislative House District 117. The seat is held by Jarrod Crockett, R-Bethel, who is not running again.

* The board granted approval for 19 vocational students and several chaperons to attend the Skills USA competition on March 13 and 14 in Bangor.


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