Voters of Regional School Unit 9 raise their cards Tuesday to vote on the annual budget at Mt. Blue Campus in Farmington. The $39.99 million spending plan was approved nearly unanimously and will go to a final vote in the 10 district towns June 14. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Voters at the Regional School Unit 9 annual budget meeting Tuesday approved the $39.99 million spending plan as recommended.

It will go to a second vote Tuesday, June 14, at the polls in Chesterville, Farmington, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Starks, Temple, Vienna, Weld and Wilton.

Seventy-eight voters attended, Jennifer Pooler, director of communications and internal operations, said. Paul Mills was moderator.

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. “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 June 14, the budget will come at a $13.78 million cost to taxpayers across the district’s towns

The 2022-2023 budget is a $1.13 million increase from 2021-2022.

Administration initially proposed a $40.1 million budget. But following the budget presentation April 6, Superintendent Chris Elkington was able to decrease it by $100,703 due to changes in anticipated health care 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 previously 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 in Farmington.

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

Starks Town Clerk Jennifer Hebert of Starks counts ballots Tuesday at the Regional School Unit 9 annual budget meeting in Farmington. The articles were approved nearly unanimously within 45 minutes. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

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

• $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 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 cover amounts beyond those budgeted for the transportation and facilities maintenance.

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 for the reason for the new reserve funds.

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

Elkington said, “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,” he said. “We eliminated most of them.” The reserve account,” he said, “allows us not to have to ask the taxpayers to raise extra funds, but to use money that’s already in the fund balance.”


Elkington said, “There will be an accounting next year showing how much from these reserve accounts was spent above what was budgeted for those particular accounts.”

Regarding the Fuel Reserve Fund, a voter asked what was the formula to arrive at the figures.

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

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

According to documents available at the budget presentation 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 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 on June 14 will be asked if they wish to continue the budget validation referendum for another three years. Without approval, the budget would be approved and enacted based on the votes at the annual budget meeting.

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.