Election clerk Randy Robbins, left, and ward clerk Chris Sirois help Bud Lewis enter his state and city ballots into voting machines at Washburn Elementary School in Auburn on Tuesday. Lewis, 99, said he has voted at the Ward I location since 1949. “I don’t think I have missed a single one (election),” said Lewis. Ward I warden Audrey Murphy said 543 voters cast their ballots by noon. “We have been steady,” said Murphy. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — Early returns Tuesday showed strong support for the $43.69 million school budget.

Preliminary results showed voters were in favor of the proposed spending plan by a 3-to-1 margin.

With ballot results not yet official Tuesday night, City Clerk Susan Clements-Dallaire said 2,944 residents had voted yes and 936 no.

The budget for 2018-19 will not increase local property taxes. The budget is 4.6 percent more than current spending, but the increase is being covered by state funding for education, which will increase by $2.1 million.

Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin said she was pleased that voters approved the budget.

“I’m very pleased that the community recognized that the budget is supporting needs,” Grondin said, “while keeping it at a zero percent increase to the taxpayers.”


She added that voters understood the budget will fill some needs, such as more teachers to reduce elementary class sizes, while not boosting taxes.

Auburn voters also passed by a 3-to-1 margin the community service center referendum, which will have four school districts — Lewiston, Auburn, Poland and Turner — working together to find ways to consolidate services and trim costs.

Grondin said it is “a positive message that the community sees the benefits we may see by being in a regional service center.”

For a June primary election, voter turnout was good.

“Voting was very steady, better than expected,” Clements-Dallaire said.

Voters at the polls offered a mixed reaction to the budget. Jamie Folker said he voted yes.


“I think education should be a top priority with our taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Dawn Gordon also voted for the school budget.

School Committee members and the City Council “worked very hard to come to a decision on the budget,” Gordon said. “I watched the debates and meetings. It feels like they put a lot of work into it.”

Gordon said she appreciated that the school budget will not drive up taxes, “but I support education. If there was a little bump, I’d be OK with it.”

Debra and Mike Mongeau, who were the last to vote just before the polls closed, both supported the school budget. Debra Mongeau said she read about the school budget and agreed with the proposal.

“Schools need all the help they can get,” she said.


Mike Mongeau said the City Council “hashed it over” well. He was confident it was a solid budget after being approved by councilors.

Both also voted for the regional service center, saying it sounded like a good idea to work with other districts to find savings.

Other voters said they rejected the budget.

Bob White said he voted no on the school budget, but voted in favor of a regional service center.

“I think school budgets are ballooning,” White said.

His wife voted yes on both.


Stephen J. Martelli, a member of the Auburn Planning Board, said he voted against the school budget and the school regionalization question.

“The budget is too high,” he said. “It can be cut and money can be used in other avenues. And I don’t think the union with other schools will make a stronger case.”

Bob Mcleod said he voted against the budget even though he was not that educated on it.

“I feel like we can always renegotiate,” he said.

As for ranked-choice voting, he said he “didn’t really care for it. I’d rather just vote up or down.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.