SVRSU eyes possible July 14 budget vote, sans meeting

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 8:00am

For the first time, Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit 12 voters might decide the budget without first having the open meeting where they can alter it, Superintendent of Schools Howard Tuttle said May 21. He doubted it would raise the risk of rejection.

“I would be surprised. We’ve had 75 to 80% support for the budget for the last couple of years. So, I don’t anticipate that happening. And I think people understand the situation we’re all in,” he said in a phone interview.

Minutes earlier, in a meeting live-streamed on the district’s YouTube channel, Tuttle told the board of directors a board meeting might be called soon to set a July 14 budget referendum. He said he keeps hearing the state might waive districts’ budget meetings this year because large gatherings are still barred over the pandemic. SVRSU’s budget meeting attracts almost 100 people, Tuttle said. He told the board, if Gov. Janet Mills waives those meetings, “We’re going to need to (meet) pretty quick because we need to get the ballots ready and get the budget book out (to voters) by July 14.”

Besides sending out the budget book, Tuttle said he would put the budget presentation at svrsu.org and add an informational video.

Westport Island representative to the board Richard DeVries told Tuttle, “That sounds like a good plan. Thank you.”

One night earlier, via Zoom, Alna representative Ralph Hilton informed Alna selectmen of the possible July 14 vote. He noted the state subsidy is not yet known, and the district has set aside federal funds “in case something happens and we have to backfill with that.” Hilton noted people can vote absentee in the referendum.

The budget offer the district board passed April 16 totaled $24,008,290, up 4.2%, with the cost to towns up an overall 3.3% after state subsidy, according to information the district provided then.

Also May 21, the district board nodded a $1.5 million tax and revenue anticipation note. Tuttle said the district, which also serves Windsor, Whitefield, Chelsea, Palermo and Somerville, has gotten the notes for years. The interest rate, yet to be set with The First, will be good, he said later.