LISBON

It took five tries over the course of the fiscal year, but finally on Tuesday, Lisbon voters approved a 2015-16 school budget.

The town council’s proposed $15.19 million school spending plan drew less voters than in any of the previous referendums, but passed with a vote of 318-106 in Tuesday’s budget validation referendum.

The fact that a budget was finally passed is not surprising, because the council and school committee compromised and struck a deal contingent on successful passage of the budget.

The $15,188,724 spending plan adopted by the council on Dec. 15 was only $75,874 less than the school committee’s recommendation. On Dec. 22, the council offered not to bill the school department the remaining $58,000 balance for its school resource officer’s salary and benefits, and would only expect the school to pay the town up to $29,000 if it can find any surplus.

As part of the deal, the council expected school department officials to support and push for passage of the proposed spending plan.

Traci Austin, chairwoman of the Lisbon School Committee, said Tuesday night passage of the budget was “wonderful news.”

“We can move forward and continue this year with actual figures, which is helpful because in just a few weeks we’ll be discussing the 2016-17 budget,” she said.

Asked whether the deal between the two boards worked, Austin said, “I think all along what the public wanted is discussion and not just ultimatums.”

Austin said Superintendent Richard Green froze the budget early on over the summer when the second proposed budget failed and reductions were made to the school committee’s recommended spending plans both times.

Not having a budget this late in the fiscal year, Austin said the school department had to forgo filling some vacant positions, although they were needed. There were also some late resignations in positions school officials chose not to fill in case the positions were reduced due to more budget cuts.

This late in the year, it’s difficult to fill those positions, she said.

The council chairman, Roger Bickford, expressed his desire last month to have some councilors more involved in school budget discussions to make sure everyone is on the same page. Obviously a proponent of education, Austin said she was willing to hold workshops and educate councilors and others about what it takes to run a school district.

Four previous budget validation referendums failed since June and a majority of voters indicated on their ballots it was because the budget was too low each time.

On June 9, voters rejected the council’s first proposed school budget by a wide margin with a vote of 790- 308. On Aug. 11, they rejected it with a 473-141 vote followed by another unsuccessful referendum Sept. 22 with a 452-142 tally. A fourth school budget was rejected by voters Nov. 3 as a result of a 1,085-900 vote.

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• ON JUNE 9, voters rejected the council’s first proposed school budget by a wide margin with a vote of 790-308. On Aug. 11, they rejected it with a 473- 141 vote followed by another unsuccessful referendum Sept. 22 with a 452-142 tally. A fourth school budget was rejected by voters Nov. 3 as a result of a 1,085-900 vote.



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