JAY — Voters in Regional School Unit 73 approved all 17 articles Thursday night for the $19.6 million budget for 2019-20.

The budget, up 4% from what was approved last year, will next go to a vote in each town April 23.

If approved, the amounts to be raised in taxes by each town for the budget are: Jay, $6.14 million, increase of $486,618.77;  Livermore, $2.09 million, a $182,776.37 increase; and Livermore Falls,  $1.95 million, an increase of $227,794.69.

The article drawing the most discussion was for a $195,000 contingency fund, which voters approved.

Jay Selectperson Judy Diaz asked why the fund was added.

Interim Superintendent Bob Webster said budgets for 2017-18 and 2018-19 were frozen to pay for unexpected expenses. Items not budgeted for 2018-19 included more kindergarten students and additional expenses associated with the Siemens construction projects.

“Rather than freezing the budget, the board put in the contingency fund so the rest of the budget could go on as planned,” Webster said. “If it’s not needed, it will be put in the following year’s budget.”

School board member Shari Ouellette said: “We can’t have a budget freeze and educate our kids. We’ve been taking money from every nook and cranny. The contingency makes sure everyone gets educated and we don’t run into a shortfall. We can’t run in the red.”

Webster said local tax assessments in 2015-16 were $12.4 million. That has decreased each year since, to $9.4 million last year.

“I think this board is doing an extraordinary job of doing the best they can to protect the taxpayers,” Webster said. “This year, they are asking for an increase.”

The board approved $50,000 for a school resource officer for Spruce Mountain Middle and High schools, contingent on Jay appropriating an additional $50,000.

Also approved: An increase of $195,000 for the local share for adult education, with Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls each paying $65,000.

Robyn Raymond, director of adult education, said an additional teacher was needed because the program has grown more than 173 percent.

NOTE: The article has been changed to put in the correct proposed town assessments, if the budget is approved. It was a reporter error.

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