JAY — The Regional School Unit 73 budget referendum set for July 14 was rescinded Tuesday night, with a new budget hearing set for Aug. 4 and the referendum for Aug. 18.

The district’s budget-approval process for 2020-21 had to be rescheduled.

“This meeting is taking place because our law firm made an error in our referendum documents,” Superintendent Scott Albert said in the email announcing the special board meeting.

“Warrants and related referendum ballots contain a substantial error as to the amount of taxes the school board intended and approved to fund the proposed school budget, which error can only be cured by rescinding the July 14 vote and rescheduling the 2020-21 budget approval process,” Board Chairman Robert Staples read from a document on the matter.

There was no discussion on what the error was.

The June 15 district budget meeting had been changed to a June 23 informational meeting due to Governor Janet Mills’s Executive Order of June 3 which restricted gatherings to less than 50 people.

Director Tammy Frost asked about fees for another referendum vote.

“Drummond Woodsum said if they have to work extra time, they would pay for the extra time,” Albert said. “They already reimbursed us for the time they worked on this.”

Frost asked if absentee ballots are still good.

The school ballots are not, Albert said, but everything else is.

“Instead of voting on Aug. 18, we would have a lot more people voting if we pushed it back two months and two weeks to the presidential vote,” Director Dale Leblanc said.

“We’d definitely get more people but we need to get the budget approved as soon as possible,” Staples said.

The town clerks in Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls were notified, Albert said, and the absentee ballots will be collected Wednesday.

Director Michael Morrell asked if this would put district in a bind with paying it bills.

“We’ll go under last year’s budget until a new one is approved,” Albert said. “For the towns, the recommendation is to go on the numbers for the July payment already approved. If we have to, it’s easier to give money back than trying to collect.”

Albert said RSU 73 was not the only district in which an error had been made.

“I was not given that information from our lawyer, she just stated that there was at least one other district that an error had been made,” Albert wrote in an email Tuesday.

“I’d prefer not to give the individual’s name at this time,” he later responded to a request for contact information.

In other matters, the board voted to rescind posting for a bus mechanic and enter into a contract extension agreement for a year with Bailey Brothers Ford that will expire June 30, 2021.

“Hiring of the mechanic got pushed back because of the whole budget thing. We’re still trying to get financing for Phase 2 (of the Siemens project),” Albert said prior to the vote.

He said the board could wait a year and see where things stand in the next budget season.

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