SACO – Voters in Saco soundly rejected the $43.6 million Regional School Unit budget as residents began collecting signatures to seek withdrawal from the school district.

However, voters in Old Orchard Beach supported the budget, 879-220. Results from Dayton were not available as of 11:20 p.m.

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In Saco, 1,833 votes were cast against the budget, while 878 voters supported the proposal.

The budget has to receive a majority of all the votes cast across the three communities to pass.

As of 11:20 p.m., 2,053 voters had rejected it, while 1,757 voters had approved it.

The budget, approved by the school board and residents at a regional budget meeting, would eliminate 12 positions in an attempt to hold down costs while making up for reductions in revenue.

Despite an overall decrease in spending, the budget proposal was opposed by many in Saco because it would require a tax increase. The proposed budget would add $1.70 to the city’s property tax rate because the school-funding formula has changed and subsequently would shift more costs to Saco

If the budget fails, school officials will need to begin the budget process over again.

Results from Dayton weren’t expected to come in anytime soon, as that community counts its votes by hand.