Former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon casts her ballot as Freeport Moderator John Gorman looks on. Freeport, like many other communities in Maine, held elections on its school budget. Residents in other municipalities also voted on local referendums and local board candidates. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

Freeport-area voters approved a $35.7 million budget for Regional School Unit 5 during Tuesday’s election, representing a 2.09% increase from the previous year.

RSU 5 serves students from Freeport, Pownal and Durham.

All six of the ballot articles passed Tuesday. Approval depends on the cumulative amount of votes from the three towns.

All articles passed in Freeport. In Pownal, all articles passed with the exception of article four. Durham voters rejected articles one, two, three and four, but approved articles five and six.

Article one asked voters whether to allow the town to raise the sum of tax dollars necessary, about $28.4 million, to fund the budget. Article two asked voters whether to authorize an additional $112,000 for the adult education program — which will be sourced from additional tax dollars.

Article three sought approval to transfer $35,000 to the track and field capital reserve fund. Articles four and five sought approval to allocate $30,000 to the tennis court capital reserve fund and$3.3 million for the regional career and technical education operating budget, respectively. Article six asked voters to authorize the cooperative board to transfer up to $126,000 from undesignated fund balance to the Region 10 capital reserves fund.

The top three budget costs by percentage are regular instruction at 42.8%, facilities maintenance at 14.4% and special education 13.9%, according to the RSU 5 budget brochure.

According to Superintendent Becky Foley, the drivers of the 2021-2022 budget include salary and benefit increases, a substantial increase in the career and technical education budget, the establishment of a reserve account to replace the tennis court and an the addition of two new staff members.

The budget represents a $730,164 — or 2.09% — increase over the previous fiscal year’s $34.9 million budget.

Freeport taxpayers will be responsible for about $19.9 million of the budget, a $794,966 increase from the 2020-2021 fiscal year. This translates to an estimated $0.39, or a 2.78%, increase on the property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year, excluding impacts from the municipal and county budgets.

Freeport’s 2021 property tax rate was $14 per $1,000 of property value.

In Durham, about $5.4 million of the budget will be sourced from tax-payers, which is a $225,854 increase from the previous fiscal year. This is an estimated increase of 61 cents — about 3% — on the town’s property tax rate.

Durham’s property tax rate for the 2021 fiscal year stood at $20.25 per $1,000 of property value.

For Pownal residents, about $3.1 million will be sourced from taxpayers, a $111,032 increase of the past fiscal year. The RSU 5 budget will raise property taxes in Pownal by 43 cents, or 2.40%. In fiscal year 2021, Pownal’s property tax rate was $18.

A total of 1,949 students were enrolled at RSU 5 in the 2020-2021 academic year.

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