DURHAM – A Durham resident who wouldn’t have been able to attend the May 28 Regional School Unit 5 annual budget meeting in Freeport has figured out a way he and others in the same situation can get there.

Thanks largely to Richard Johnson, they will get on a bus, provided by Bo-Mar Transportation, which will take them to the meeting at Freeport High School. Bo-Mar will pick people up at 5:30 p.m. at the Eureka Community Center, and get them to the school in plenty of time for the budget meeting, which begins at 6:30. Whenever the meeting ends – and it could be a while – the bus service will give people a ride back to Durham. The service is free of charge. Parking will be at the Community Center, and at the town office.

Johnson, who made the arrangements with Bo-Mar owner John Sloan, is accepting signups for the service until Saturday, May 24. Those interested should contact him at 212-7434 or by email at [email protected].

“We need a count,” Johnson said. “If we get 20-50 people, we can do it on one bus.”

Residents of Durham, Freeport and Pownal will gather at the school to vote on each of the 11 articles in a $27,331,990 budget proposal for 2014-2015, which would impose a 6.6 percent tax increase on the price of education for Durham residents. The increase would be 6 percent in Pownal, and 3.5 percent in Freeport.

Those at the meeting will have the opportunity to amend any article.

The finished product will go to a town-by-town referendum vote on June 10.

Johnson, 70, said he is unable to drive at night, but wants to be involved in municipal affairs.

“I was having trouble getting transportation to this meeting,” he said. “I was wondering how many other people were having the same problem. So I thought I’d dig into my savings and rent a bus.”

Johnson said he called Sloan, who responded three weeks ago that he would provide the bus service at no charge. Johnson then made arrangements with Janet Smith, the town administrator.

“Working with Janet, we arranged it,” Johnson said. “If the town of Durham didn’t want it, we would have backed off. But she said, ‘Fine.’”

Certainly, Johnson appreciates Sloan’s offer.

“I was surprised,” he said. “It certainly was a nice gesture.”

Topsham-based Bo-Mar Transportation, which provides buses to Durham students, has a facility on Royalsborough Road.

Johnson said that he wants to be involved in the RSU 5 budget process because it affects everyone in town.

“That’s out of our pockets,” he said. “I think it’s important. Freeport has more than twice the population of the other two towns combined, and the bill is spread out for the people in Freeport. We know we’re outvoted.”

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