Dresden residents will vote via secret ballot on an RSU 2 budget opposed by the selectmen and budget committee, and elect a first selectman and a member of the school board, Tuesday, June 8.
Residents will vote on the rest of the warrant articles during annual town meeting on June 12.
For the election and RSU 2 budget referendum, the polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 8 at Pownalborough Hall. Residents who wish to vote absentee can request ballots at the town office.
The proposed RSU 2 budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year totals over $32.6 million, an increase of $985,149.92 or 3.12% from the previous fiscal year. Dresden’s share totals $1,924,948.04, an increase of $155,721.92 or 8.8%.
In a budget message, RSU 2 Superintendent Tonya Arnold wrote that the increase will provide for various needs, including increases in insurance premiums, contractual salary increases, and a higher minimum wage, as well as the additions of a full-time nurse at Dresden Elementary School and a dean at Hall-Dale Middle and High School.
Arnold also partly attributed the increases to inflation and unfunded mandates.
While state subsidy will increase by nearly $94,000 next year, Arnold wrote that this still represents a 9% decrease from 2009.
If the budget does not pass, it will go back to the RSU 2 Board of Directors for additional review.
The Dresden Board of Selectmen and the Dresden Budget Review Committee have recommended that Dresden citizens vote no on the budget.
“Our opinion is we’d like the school board to go back and renegotiate,” Dresden Third Selectman Allan Moeller said at a May 11 selectmen’s meeting.
On May 25, the selectmen voted to create a withdrawal committee to explore the possibility of leaving the school district.
The board of selectmen distributed a flyer to residents conveying their recommendation, which says that if the budget passes, “property taxes go up at least $200” and there will be “more bureaucracy and less local control.”
The flyer was posted to the town’s official website and the unofficial Facebook group Dresden, Maine.
In a comment on the Facebook post, Dresden Elementary School Principal Sara Derosby invited concerned parties to an informational budget meeting with herself and Arnold at 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 2 and included a link to the Google Meet. Derosby declined comment on the budget.
Jeffrey Pierce, a former member of the RSU 2 Board of Directors and current chair of the Dresden Budget Review Committee, called the budget increase “unconscionable” and said that he voted against the budget before he resigned from his position as finance chair of the school board.
Pierce said that many Dresden residents live on Social Security and cannot afford the property tax increase that would result from the budget. He believes the town will move to withdraw from RSU 2 if the budget goes through.
In the town’s elections, Scott Silverman is challenging incumbent Kathryn Marseglia for a three-year term on the RSU 2 school board. See “Two run for school board in Dresden” in this edition.
First Selectman John Rzasa is unopposed in his bid for a three-year term. Rzasa won a four-way race for a one-year term in July 2020, after the previous first selectman resigned.