Kick-off Meeting a Rousing Success!
Thank you to the 130 folks who joined us for our kick-off meeting at St. Nick’s Church on Tuesday evening! It was thrilling to see so many neighbors sharing the common interest of sensible real estate taxes in Scarborough. It was also wonderful to see such a broad cross-section of the Town gathered together and anxious to work toward a common goal.
As we said at the meeting, our goal is to analyze the Municipal and School budgets, make it very clear what’s in them in terms that everyone can understand, and share that knowledge as widely as possible. Better informed voters can make sensible choices at the polls.
We were also very pleased with the number of individuals who said they would be willing to roll up their sleeves and join us in the hard — but essential– task of reviewing and analyzing the numerous components of the Municipal and School budgets. We will be contacting those of you who volunteered to help within the next few days. (It’s not too late to join the working group. Just send us an email.)
Council Update – June 4, 2014 Meeting – School Budget Revision
At Wednesday night’s meeting, the Council made another small reduction to the School budget. (This was a “cut” only in the sense that it was a reduction of the School Board’s original budget request.) The Council voted to reduce an additional $186,000 from the requested increase. As a result, the gross School expense budget will be $41,991,000. This represents an increase of $2,665,000 or 6.8% over last year’s budget. This increase rate is about four times the current general inflation rate. And probably most of us don’t consider a 6.8% increase to be “belt-tightening.”
Other aspects of the current budget:
• Net school expenses (after State aid and other items) that will be funded by taxpayers will be $36,167,000, an increase of 4.2% over the prior year budgeted level.
• Your total tax bill – including the Municipal and County budgets – will increase 2.9% this year, almost double the current general inflation rate.
• These increases come after a 21.6% increase in the tax rate over the past five years.
It should be noted that Councilor Blaise put forward an amendment that would have reduced the School budget by $948,000 from the “first reading” level. After the gasps from the crowd subsided, Councilor Blaise noted that his proposed reduction would have achieved a total tax rate increase of 1.5% — in line with the increase agreed to at the budget workshop in January. He further noted that the proposed reduction would still have provided a 4.8% increase to the School budget over the prior year level. Only Councilor Benedict joined Councilor Blaise in voting for this amendment.
Your voice is already being heard. At the Council meeting, Chairman Sullivan recognized the value of our group, pledged that the Municipal departments will work with us and encouraged the School departments to do likewise.
Please Vote on or before June 10!
The Town of Scarborough will vote on the currently-proposed School budget on June 10. As noted, that budget provides for a 6.8% increase in gross School operating expenses. If you think that increase is too high, you should vote NO on the School Budget Referendum and check off “Too High.”
Voting will take place between 7am and 8pm on Tuesday, June 10, at the High School Gymnasium.
In addition, early voting is available now – you may vote in person on the School Budget Referendum at Town Hall between 8am and 4pm on Friday (June 6) and Monday (June 9). (Please note that you need to have a “special circumstance” to vote on Friday or Monday in the Primary Election only. The “special circumstance” requirement does not apply to the School Budget Referendum.)
For more information about voting, please contact the Town Clerk’s Office at 730-4020.