Paris residents vote Monday night at the annual town meeting at the Paris Fire Station. They approved spending $10,000 to hire a professional to investigate the performance and budget practices of Maine School Administrative District 17. Evan Houk/Advertiser Democrat

PARIS — Less than a week after rejecting the $51.5 million Maine School Administrative District 17 budget, voters Monday approved $10,000 to hire a professional to investigate the “performance and budget practices” of the district.

Select Board Chairman Chris Summers said, “This is an effort to get the process started at taking a hard look at what the district’s expenditures are and what parameters they are using to spend those moneys.”

On June 11, six of the eight towns in the Oxford Hills School District voted down the budget, which was $4.07 million more than the $47.43 million approved last year. A majority of voters in Harrison, Hebron, Oxford, Paris, Waterford and West Paris opposed the budget, while a majority in Norway and Otisfield supported it. The vote in Paris was 265-346.

Town Manager Natalie Andrews, a former chairwoman of the school board, said, “$5,000 is the amount recommended by the town attorney to hire an investigator, if the town feels it is necessary.”

The warrant article called for $5,000, but resident Lisa Palmer motioned to raise it to $10,000, which was approved.

“We know that the school district is obviously going to push back, which means that our side of the investigation will take longer, which is going to mean that you’re going to pay someone for more time,” Palmer said.


Andrews said she has spoken to other town managers about Paris’ approach to start an investigation, but she doesn’t know if the other towns will be asking for money.

A motion was originally made to change the wording of the article from “investigation” to “trying to understand the budget practices and processes” of the school district.

“If you wanted an educational workshop on school budget practice, I could do that without charging the town $5,000, as the former board chair,” Andrews said.

“I spent a lot of time on the school board for 10 years, resident Bob Jewell said. “I was the chair of the Finance Committee and the Budget Committee and I think right now, we have a school over in Otisfield that we have $426,000 in, that we never got a bid on, on a double-wide. I think investigation’s a great word.”

During the 2 1/2-hour meeting at the Paris Fire Station, all 30 articles, most of them dealing with the $6.76 million municipal budget, passed. It is $1,162.80 more than last year’s.

The Select Board’s next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. June 24.

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