Voters approved all 23 articles on Regional School Unit 9’s 2022-23 budget warrant with a nearly unanimous vote during the annual budget meeting at the Mt. Blue Campus Tuesday, May 24. The $39.99 million budget will come at a $13.78 million cost to taxpayers if approved at the June 14 referendum. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Voters at the Regional School Unit 9 annual budget meeting held Tuesday, May 24, approved the district’s entire $39.99 million budget as recommended by the district.

It will be sent for a referendum vote Tuesday, June 14.

There were 78 voters present according to RSU 9 Director of Communications & Internal Operations Jennifer Pooler. The meeting was moderated by Paul Mills.

In about 45 minutes all 23 articles were approved with nearly unanimous votes. Few questions were asked during the meeting.

“It was so unprecedented, how quick that meeting was,” Pooler said following the meeting. “It’s unheard of how few questions there were.”

In the parking lot after the meeting, RSU 9 Director Betsey Hyde of Temple was heard telling someone, “I’ve never seen anything like it!”


If approved in the referendum, the budget will come at a $13.78 million cost to taxpayers across the district’s 10 towns: Chesterville, New Sharon, Temple, Farmington, Vienna, Starks, Weld, Wilton, Industry and New Vineyard.

The 2022-2023 fiscal year budget is a $1,131,435 (2.91%) increase from the 2021-2022 budget.

RSU 9 administration initially proposed a $40.1 million budget. But following the budget presentation April 6, Superintendent Chris Elkington was able to decrease the budget by $100,703 due to changes in anticipated healthcare and guidance/social worker costs.

The biggest spending increases are in the school nutrition and facilities maintenance cost centers.

The major increase in food services  – up 646.4% to $41,052 – is due to what Elkington said is the one-time cost to pay off meal debt.

Elkington explained in a previous interview that the district has spent too much time and money on mostly unsuccessful attempts to ask families of students to pay off their meal debts. Now, with the federal government and Maine legislature offering students free meals, Elkington said “this is a good time to just get rid of this debt all at once … with the good place the district is in, monetarily speaking.”


The debt service expenditure saw a 9.56% decrease due to the completion of debt repayment for renovations at Mt. Blue Middle School.

Voters additionally approved $508,652 for Franklin County Adult Education.

Jennifer Hebert, a ballot clerk and Starks’ Town Clerk, counts up written ballots for an article on the warrant at the Regional School Unit 9 annual budget meeting Tuesday, May 24. The articles were approved nearly unanimous votes within 45 minutes, which RSU 9 Director of Communications and Internal Operations Jennifer Pooler said was “so unprecedented.” Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

Alongside the budget, there were four articles on the warrant that would create new reserve funds to address various needs.

The “creation of reserve accounts” are as follows:

• $300,000 for a “Capital Reserve Fund for maintenance of school facilities, to pay costs of capital equipment and projects.”

• $350,000 for a “Special Education Reserve Fund to pay unanticipated special education costs.”


• $300,00 for an “Instructional Technology Reserve Fund to pay costs related to technology equipment for student instruction … [by transferring the money] from available fund balances, including revenues from sales of RSU-purchased electronic devices…”

• $100,000 for a “Fuel Reserve Fund to pay unanticipated fuel costs exceeding amounts budgeted for fuel in the Transportation cost center and Facilities Maintenance cost center … to offset heating and transportation fuel costs that exceed budgeted amounts.”

The money would come from, among other sources “available fund balances at the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year.”

During the meeting Temple resident and former RSU 9 Director Jo Josephson asked what was the reasoning for these new reserve funds.

“What’s behind it? Why are you doing it? What’s the need?” Josephson asked.

Superintendent Chris Elkington responded “the reason that we’re creating these reserve accounts is so that we don’t have to put money in contingency funds every year.”


“Every year, the voters of RSU 9 raise levels of contingency for several hundreds of thousands. We eliminated most of them,” Elkington said. “[The reserve account] allows us not to have to ask the taxpayers to raise extra funds, but to use money that’s already in the fund balance.”

Josephson also asked “if there will be an accounting next year showing how much from these reserve accounts was spent above what was budgeted for those particular accounts?”

Elkington responded “yes.”

Regarding the Fuel Reserve Fund, a voter asked about “the formula to arrive at” these figures.

“The way costs are increasing right now, within the next year it could be exponentially more money [for gas and oil],” the voter said. “… Is [the $100,000] going to be enough to offset the increased cost of fuel?”

Elkington said that there are already “extra funds already in the budget for what we’re expecting in reference to both heating oil and fuel costs.”


According to documents handed out at the RSU 9 budget presentation held April 6, the 2022-23 budget includes $80,000 in heating costs under Plant and Maintenance Operations, and $54,000 in transportation fuel under Student Transportation.

These anticipated increases in fuel costs are a part of an overall 8.94% increase for Student Transportation and a 14.91% increase for Operation and Maintenance of Plant.

“These [reserve account funds] will be extra funds for either now or in the future,” Elkington said. “This is the start of these reserve accounts … [the money] may not be used next year. It just stays in a reserve account unless the voters asked to pull it out.”

Voters in the RSU 9 district will head to the polls Tuesday, June 14, to vote on the budget. The ballot will have an aggregated question regarding what was voted on at the meeting.

Voters will be asked “do you favor approving the Regional School Unit No. 9 budget for the upcoming school year that was adopted at the latest RSU 9 budget meeting?”

They will also be asked if they wish to “continue the budget validation referendum process in Regional School Unit 9 for an additional three years.”

Without approval of that second question, RSU 9’s budget would be approved and enacted based on the votes at the annual budget meeting.

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