PENOBSCOT — A thinning in the number of local children heading to high school next year has led to a decrease in the school budget getting proposed to voters at the annual Town Meeting next week.
The meeting will begin 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, at Penobscot Community School. A day earlier, town elections will be held at the town office from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
According to Superintendent Mark Hurvitt of Union 93, the proposed school budget for next year is $1.8 million, down 0.24 percent from this year’s.
The reason for that decrease is that the town will not have to cover the tuition for as many local high school students next year, Hurvitt said.
The proposed town budget, meanwhile, is going up by a small amount, said Selectman Paul Bowen. The new costs will mainly be for housekeeping type things such as new office equipment, he added.
Bowen not have the exact budget figures on hand when contacted by a reporter. Last year, the municipal budget approved by voters was close to $470,000.
“It’s not going to be significantly different,” Bowen said.
Several candidates are running unopposed for seats on the town’s governing bodies.
Bowen himself is running for re-election, while Sally Bridges is running for town clerk and registrar of the voters. She has been serving in those roles on an interim basis since former clerk Mary Ellen Gross stepped down last summer because of health issues.
At the Town Meeting, Bowen said, voters will consider borrowing funds to replace one of the town’s current fire trucks, which was built in 1975.
They will also consider a new ordinance related to flood plains set out by the federal government, which will allow a few homeowners to obtain flood insurance, Bowen said.
Voters will also consider where the town’s trash is headed.
Penobscot is a member of the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), a coalition of towns that will soon decide whether to keep sending its garbage to a waste-to-energy facility in Orrington, where costs will soon increase, or to instead divert the garbage to a proposed facility in Hampden that will use a new recycling technology.
At the Town Meeting, voters will consider whether to go with MRC’s recommendation, which is to send trash to the un-built plant in Hampden.
Bowen had little input on the subject. “We’re still reviewing it,” he said of the looming decision. “We have a lot of questions about it. The selectmen haven’t made a recommendation.”