MEXICO — The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted Tuesday evening to send a letter to the Regional School Unit 10 school board requesting it reduce the 2015-16 budget by 10 percent from the previous year’s budget.

The vote came shortly after the selectmen voted to request that Town Manager John Madigan attempt to reduce each department budget by 10 percent for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Resident Peter Merrill asked the selectmen why they didn’t draft a letter to the RSU 10 board asking to reduce the budget by 10 percent as well.

“That’s where you need to start,” Merrill said. “Their budget is based on what everyone’s real estate is worth, but my house isn’t worth what I paid for it 17 years ago. That’s when you get problems: when the highest percentage of your tax money goes to supporting a school district that spends every dime you give them.”

Selectman Albert Aniel said, “I’ve heard that, on average, the homes sold in this area this year sold for 20 to 30 percent less than they were purchased.

“Maybe we should make another motion to send a letter to the school board saying we’re reducing our budget by 10 percent, and urge them to do the same,” Aniel said.

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Merrill suggested that the Mexico board urge the Rumford Board of Selectmen to do the same thing.

“Hopefully, the school board will finally get the hint,” Merrill said. “With our two towns combined, asking for a budget reduction, we should have some pull.”

Selectman Andy Dupuis said that they should include the town of Dixfield as well.

Selectman Reggie Arsenault said that they need to start looking at the school budget before it’s too late.

“If Byron bows out, it’s going to increase the budget and affect all of us,” Arsenault said. “Plus, look at some of the administrative positions. The assistant superintendent for RSU 10 makes $96,000 a year. If you got rid of her, you could hire three teachers.”

When a resident brought up the fact that the assistant superintendent was retiring this year, Aniel said, “Well, they should eliminate that position by attrition.”

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Gloria Jenkins, who served as RSU 10 assistant superintendent for four years, resigned from the position during Monday evening’s RSU 10 board meeting.

Superintendent Craig King said plans are to have a new person in place by the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1.

Aniel later asked, “What would happen if we didn’t give them that money? Let’s say, hypothetically, they want $1 million and we tell them, ‘No, you’re only going to get $900,000.’”

“It doesn’t work that way,” Arsenault quickly interjected. “If the other towns in the district approve the budget, it doesn’t matter if we shoot it down. We won’t have a leg to stand on. Every single town in the district would have to shoot down the budget.”

“Okay, but what if we still do it?” Aniel asked. “What is legally going to happen?”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Richie Philbrick laughed and said, “They’re going to say, ‘Albert Aniel, here’s your orange uniform.’”

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Selectman Byron Ouellette said, “There would probably be a lawsuit, and it would cost us a lot of money to deal with.”

“That’s why every town in RSU 10 would have to vote against the budget,” Arsenault reiterated.

The board subsequently voted to write a letter to the RSU 10 school board urging them to reduce their budget 10 percent from the previous year.

Shortly after the vote, Ouellette said that they should reach out to the other towns in the district and ask them to write letters to the school board.

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