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News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 6, 2014
In Sedgwick, selectmen review school budget with reduced local share

by Bette Britt

It had meant an extra meeting of the school board, but Union 76 Superintendent Mark Jenkins was true to his word of last week and presented copies of the proposed 2014-15 school budget to Sedgwick selectmen and members of the budget committee on Thursday, January 30. The bottom line of $1,987,673 is a 2.99 percent increase ($55,757) over the current budget, but the good news for taxpayers is that the total local share to be raised is $94,352 less than last year due to increases in subsidies.

Looking over a budget that shows modest increases but few decreases—and those in guidance, health services and the library—Selectman Neil Davis asked Jenkins whether the budget provides the same degree of attention. Jenkins was reassuring in his brief reply, and when Davis encouraged budget committee members to read over the budget, the superintendent offered to return another time to answer any questions that might arise.

Budget committee members Horace Wardwell and Paul Trowbridge indicated they already had questions, including technology use by students and computer maintenance—there’s a “technology custodian” on site in the office two days a week, according to Jenkins—phone costs, special education, school lunches, transportation and central office rent at Deer Isle-Stonington High School. Concluding the review of the proposed school budget, selectmen expressed gratitude, Davis by saying it “looks good from my perspective,” and Victor Smith complimenting the school board for “a lot of hard work—and we appreciate it.”

In the absence of Nelson Grindal, Davis and Smith dealt with other issues at their January 30 meeting, participating in a discussion about emergency management practices in case of disaster, like the storm which left the area without power for several days in December; progress being made on town reassessment, where 806 properties, to date, have been visited and values established; status of the municipal budget, with emphasis on keeping a tight rein on taxes; the status of a concealed weapon policy, where the application form is “a lot more complicated,” according to selectmen’s assistant Barbara Grindle. Additionally, selectmen looked over a form letter to be sent to “charitable” organizations which seek support at the annual town meeting.

New office hours were noted for Town Clerk Cindy Reilly on Wednesdays, 1 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m. at home; Thursdays, 1 to 7 p.m.; Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to noon in the office. Tax Collector Belinda Pert will be in the town office Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursdays, 12 to 3 p.m.