Brewer News

Brewer voters OK school budget, but ordinance changes fail

Posted June 09, 2015, at 9:42 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — A small turnout during Tuesday’s election in Brewer resulted in the rejection of a pair of ordinance changes, despite both proposals drawing strong support from those who did vote.

Residents approved the $20.9 million proposed Brewer School Department budget by a vote of 478-188.

“We appreciate the voters supporting the schools, as they’ve traditionally done,” Brewer School Committee Chairman Kevin Forrest said shortly after results came in.

The Brewer School Department was eyeing cuts in April, facing a projected $248,000 budget shortfall. After meeting with Superintendent Jay McIntire about the possible cuts, municipal officials decided to increase the funding for the school department to avoid the reductions. That decision also contributed to an expected increase in the city’s mill rate in the coming fiscal year.

Two charter amendment proposals that also appeared on the ballot were rejected but only because not enough people voted. Early, unofficial results indicated about 670 Brewer residents cast votes, which is well short of the 1,261 — 30 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election — needed for a vote to change the city charter to be valid.

One would have eliminated the requirement the school superintendent live in the city. Proponents argued scratching out the requirement would make it easier for the city to find the most qualified candidates for the job when the current superintendent’s contract expires. The residency rule was approved by voters at the ballot three years ago.

The other would have created a provision in the charter allowing school committee members to be recalled. A recall option already exists for city councilors. There has been some controversy surrounding the Brewer School Committee this year resulting from its decision not to renew Jay McIntire’s contract.

Still, those who voted largely were in favor of the ordinance changes. The residency requirement repeal drew 475 votes in favor, 187 against.

The push to establish a recall provision for school board members drew 539 votes in favor, 111 against.

There are about 7,100 registered voters in Brewer, making the turnout for this election less than 10 percent.

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff