January 18, 2022

Tremont voters OK school budget

TREMONT — Tremont voters approved a nearly $1 million school budget at an open-floor town meeting Tuesday, after turning down at the polls on Monday a proposal to expand the elementary school.

The proposed $1.77 million school bond issue was defeated Monday by a 12-vote margin. It was the second time a school expansion and renovation project has been defeated in Tremont since 1995.

Voters on Tuesday also approved Tremont’s $1,000 share of the islandwide bus system, joining with the other three towns on Mount Desert Island in contributing local funds to the project that could have buses running several routes across the island by 1999. The MDI communities have obtained a $500,000 federal grant to start the program.

After more than two hours at town meeting Tuesday evening, voters had acted on only 11 of the 39 articles on the warrant. Seven of the 11 articles concerned the school budget, with all eventually passing as recommended by the school committee.

But not everyone was pleased with the 3 percent increase in the school budget. Frank Gray said the “large increases in the school budget year after year after year” are difficult for people “who live on limited incomes. They can’t afford to pay these increases,” Gray said.

School Superintendent Howard Colter said the increasing number of students in the school is directly related to the budget increase.

One effort by the selectmen to cut $5,000 from the expenditure for the administration side of the school budget failed. Selectman Al Price said the board’s proposed $5,000 cut was related to its dissatisfaction with the custodial work during the summer.

Colter said the school board understood the selectmen’s concern and is “re-evaluating that whole program.”

Voters approved $26,974 for a variety of local boards and nonprofit groups, with $10,974 of that sum to come from taxes. The total reflects the amounts recommended by the selectmen for each group, as well as an additional $30 for the Memorial Day flags fund.

Gray had argued for the additional $30, saying without it some graves would go unmarked. “Whose grave do you not want me to put a marker on this year?” he wondered.

Gray’s additional proposal to appropriate zero dollars for the islandwide bus system was defeated by voters.

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