Dresden will vote at its annual June town meeting on whether to form an exploratory committee to examine withdrawal from RSU 2. The Dresden Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to add the article to the warrant Monday, April 4.
The idea for an exploratory committee was proposed by Dresden Budget Review Committee member and Dresden Planning Board Chair Jeffrey Pierce at the behest of several residents, Pierce said.
“I don’t want anyone to think we’re knocking the school system, but we need to explore if (RSU 2) is the best option for us fiscally,” Pierce said. “A lot of residents are concerned.”
RSU 2 serves the communities of Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Monmouth, and Richmond. Prior to consolidation, Dresden was responsible for the Dresden Elementary School and had a contract with Hall-Dale to educate students in grades six through 12.
Since consolidation, Dresden’s education costs have risen more than $720,000, Pierce said. With elderly residents of Dresden receiving no wage increases, it is the responsibility of the town to keep property taxes as low as possible, so they can afford to stay in their homes, Pierce said.
Despite decreases in the municipal budget, the tax commitment continues to rise, largely due to increases in the education budget, he said.
“I’m not saying the RSU isn’t the best thing,” Pierce said. “I’m saying let’s explore it to see if we’re getting the best deal for the taxpayer.”
If voters choose to form an exploratory committee, the committee would consist of five members: a selectman; one member each from the budget committee, planning board, and school board; and a resident.
According to First Selectman Dale Hinote, in addition to the warrant article asking if the town would like to form an exploratory committee to consider withdrawing from RSU 2, a survey question will be included on the warrant, which will ask voters if they feel education spending is too high, too low, or as it should be.
“I would suspect if the town votes to form the committee, the committee will take the results of the survey very seriously,” Hinote said.
“It’s up to the town to see if they want an exploratory committee to look at options,” Pierce said. “(The committee) might find we get the most bang for our buck if we stay with RSU 2. They might also find it’s better for us to go back to contracting out services.”
Reached for comment Tuesday, April 5, RSU 2 Board of Directors Chair Bill Matthews, of Dresden, said he was not aware of the selectmen’s vote.