SACO — More than 150 residents of Saco, Dayton and Old Orchard Beach turned out Tuesday night for a public hearing and vote on the proposed budget for Regional School Unit 23.

Residents approved a budget that’s $130,000 less than the $43.7 million proposed by the school board. The proposed budget was about 3 percent more than the one for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The proposed budget would increase property taxes for Dayton residents, but decrease taxes for those in Saco and Old Orchard Beach. Dayton residents would pay an additional $49 per $100,000 valuation, while Saco residents would see a decrease of $5 and Old Orchard Beach residents would see a decrease of $59.

Superintendent Michael Lafortune said those figures are likely to change because of Tuesday night’s spending cuts and additional state aid.

The budget proposed by the board was reduced when residents discussed administration and facilities maintenance.

Linda Morse of Dayton, who served on the school board before RSU 23 was formed two years ago, asked the board why cuts were proposed to education and not administration.

“It was my understanding the intention of the RSU was to combine central office services,” she said. “The formation of the RSU was to reduce the impact of administrative services, but we’re seeing it in our schools.”

Since the district was formed, Lafortune said, the administrative staff has been consolidated but the offices have not merged because of space constraints in the administrative buildings in Saco and Old Orchard Beach.

By a show of hands, residents supported Morse’s motion to reduce the proposed $1,012,310 for administration by $100,000. Lafortune said after the meeting that the school board will discuss how to make that cut.

“That is a big number for that (budget) line, but we’ll have to make it work,” he said.

Residents also voted to eliminated $30,000 from the $3.7 million proposed for facilities maintenance. That amount had been proposed to fund the lease/purchase of bleachers for the Old Orchard Beach High School football field, with $30,000 paid annually for a total of five years.

Gary Curtis, a board member representing Old Orchard Beach, said his Town Council recently approved a $200,000 grant to fund the bleachers and repairs to the tennis courts. He said the money is no longer needed in facilities maintenance for that project, but could have been used at the school board’s discretion for another facilities improvement project.

Voters will have another chance to weigh in on the budget, during a referendum June 7. “I would hope it passes,” said Lafortune. “It’s a fair budget.”

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]