Voters at the RSU 73 budget meeting Thursday, April 7, are seen voting in favor of the HollandStrong tennis courts project. The courts are near the Spruce Mountain Elementary School in Jay. Voters from Jay used blue cards when voting. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — The 21 articles considered at the Spruce Mountain district budget meeting passed easily Thursday night, April 7, with only a few drawing questions or comments from voters.

The budget articles approved result in a $1.42 million increase over the $20.75 million approved for the Regional School Unit 73 2020-2021 school year.

Polls will be open April 26 in Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls for voters to validate the budget and consider staying with the current budget validation referendum process for the next three years.

The first article seeking $8.6 million for regular instruction drew comment from Sharri Ouellette, a Jay resident, business owner, and former director for the district.

“In light of everything that’s gone on, with inflation, prices have gone up for everyone,” she said. “After I left this meeting the last time I was told ‘I just don’t understand how this works.’ Let me tell you what I do understand. I do understand what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck. I do understand what it is like to try to make enough money to pay taxes, to pay crews, to pay rent, insurance, pay all of those things and still come up short.”

“Most businesses in these towns, in this area, they are struggling because of Covid two years later,” Ouellette said. “I respectfully ask what the state of Maine, the federal government refused to do, let’s cut back a little. Make a good faith effort to these townspeople to show that you care that they can’t do their taxes, that they have to give up something in order to pay taxes.”


Moderator Clint Boothby told Ouellette she would have to amend the motion, give a number if she wanted to change what was before the floor. With no amendment requested and no other comments, the motion carried as presented.

One voter asked if the article dealing with debt service was for new debt or that already incurred.

Superintendent Scott Albert said it was for debt the district already has for the Siemens projects to improve energy efficiency in district buildings. One project began five years ago, the other two with for each over a 15-year period, he noted.

In addition to the budget-related articles, voters approved establishing a $45,000 reserve fund for the HollandStrong tennis courts project with up to that amount being expended as needed. They also established a capital reserve account of up to $100,000 using balances left at the end of the 2021-2022 year to use for unexpected increases in utilities or maintenance needs the following year.

Prior to approval of continuing the tuition contract for Fayette students, Jim Manter of Livermore asked if it was a flat fee per student.

“Yes, [Fayette] pays the maximum the state allows for tuition, in the $11,000 range for students grades six through 12,” Albert said, “However, if it is a special-education student we receive, if we have to spend additional money on that student according to their [Individualized Education Program] the town of Fayette pays that.”


The tuition amount is fairly close to what the other students cost the district, is equitable, Albert answered Manter’s other question.

Ouellette voted against many of the articles presented. Former director Cynthia Young of Livermore also opposed some of them.

“Livermore’s taxes are going up,” Young said after the meeting. She wished more people would attend meetings.

“I know what it is like to build a budget,” Young said. “I think we need to start paying attention.”

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