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Bangor, Maine, school budget passes with wide victory margin

From article in BDN
By Evan Belanger,June 09, 2015,

With a 52-point margin of victory, the Bangor School Department’s $43.89 million budget passed with city voters Tuesday, according to unofficial tallies.

The budget garnered 1,478 favorable votes and 458 nays, according to tallies posted at the polling site. City officials are expected to certify the final election results Tuesday.Including three blank ballots, in which residents either cast a blank ballot or voted in favor and against, a total of 1,939 voters turned out.

Compared with the 22,234 residents who were registered to vote when the polls opened, that’s a turnout rate of 8.72 percent, not including those who registered to vote at the polls.

That compares with a voter turnout of 13 percent last year, when the vote coincided with state primary elections.

Superintendent Betsy Webb thanked the community for its support of the budget after the votes were tallied.

“Although it’s a low voter turnout, I take this as an indication that we are meeting the community’s expectation,” she said, adding that school officials work hard to remain efficient while maintaining a quality education for students.

The budget called for a total spending increase of $739,785, or 1.71 percent, of the year before. That equates to an extra 8 cents on the local property tax rate.

Over the past seven years — including the new budget — the average annual increase has been 0.8 percent, according to Webb.

“We work together to make sure there’s a quality education for students, but it’s getting more and more difficult to do that and this can’t go on forever,” Webb said, thanking faculty and staff for their hard work.

School officials say additional revenues from the state are possible in the final budget, which is being debated in the state Legislature.

The Bangor School Committee and the City Council already voted to use any additional state education dollars to reduce the local tax impact, needing $274,972 to zero out the proposed budget 8-cent increase.

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