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Proposed Scarborough town-school budget up 7.4%


Scarborough’s proposed $78.2 million combined town and school budget is up 7.4% over this year’s budget and would increase the property tax rate 4.9%.

The $22.1 million municipal portion of the proposal is 4%, or $877,000, more than this fiscal year’s $21.2 million budget, and includes two new police officers and a number of capital improvements.

The proposed school budget, which includes four new teaching positions, is $52.4 million, an increase of 5.2%, or $2.6 million, from $49.7 million this year.

Under the proposal, the tax rate would increase 73 cents from $15.02 to $15.75 per $1,000 assessed value. The owner of a $500,000 home would owe $7,875 in taxes, $365 more than this year.

Town Manager Tom Hall said in an interview with The Forecaster that his goal through the upcoming budget process is to reduce the tax rate increase to under 3%.

“Revenues need further refinement,” he said. “I typically start off very conservative, and we reduce spending further after some thoughtful discussion.”

There is a history, Hall said, of the town’s tax rate dropping from what was originally proposed.

Since 2015, Scarborough’s tax rate has increased by less than 3% in all but one year, 2018, when there was an increase of 3.58%, according to Hall’s presentation to the City Council on Wednesday night. The tax rate went up 1.08% in 2022.

As proposed, municipal spending includes just over $500,000 in public safety investments and also addresses some community needs as indicated in a survey conducted in fall 2021.

“It was an incredible opportunity for us to get direct feedback and insight of our community values and what people want more of,” Hall said. “Some of the things they’ve indicated are very near and dear to us as well.”

Proposed initiatives, based on those survey findings, include updating the town’s transportation study, a sidewalk snow removal machine, a Black Point Road paving project, and a general sidewalk rehabilitation plan. The total cost of these projects is estimated to be $695,000.

In addition, the town’s annual paving project is estimated to cost $1.5 million.

The community survey also influenced public safety investments in the new budget.

“Some people want better visibility of police in their neighborhoods,” Hall said. “So we’re proposing two additional patrol officers.”

The town will use some of its American Rescue Plan funds to cover the costs of a number of capital improvements. Those include two new ambulances, totaling $650,000; pedestrian and safety improvements on Spurwink Road, $890,000; and replacing the electronic message board at Town Hall, about $35,000.

The $52.4 million school budget includes allocations of funds previously provided through federal grants during the pandemic and funding four new teaching positions.

“(This is) to continue to maintain small class sizes as part of our recovery and getting back to more normalized operations as a school department,” Superintendent Geoff Bruno told the Town Council Wednesday.

Wages and benefits, dictated by a collective bargaining agreement, are expected to cost $2.54 million.

“We have the costs of doing business and keeping the personnel and programs that we have in place moving forward,” Bruno said. “We’re in negotiations for the teachers … so that’s a big number.”

Personnel costs, he said, make up nearly 80% of the school budget.

Other costs include $360,000 for an expected 6% health insurance increase, a $300,000 increase in energy and fuel costs, and $250,000 to add two social workers and two educational technicians.

The council’s finance committee will begin its review of the budget proposal this month. The council and the Scarborough School Board will hold a joint public hearing on the plan in May, and the town’s portion of the budget is expected to be finalized later that month. Residents will vote on the school budget June 14.



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