Two questions keep coming up in ‘listening sessions’ I have with people in town: “What would you do as a Councilor to change the contentious way we handle the school budget every year?” And, “ What would you do to stabilize the real estate taxes in Scarborough?” The two questions are linked by a three-pronged, common solution.
- We should change our fiscal year to match the State of Maine fiscal year, or on to three months thereafter.
- We should go to a two year budget cycle like the State of Maine.
- We should limit our municipal and school budget increases to 3% per year.
Changing our fiscal year to match the State of Maine fiscal year, or three months thereafter takes the guess work out of our budget formation process. Every year I hear of our proposed budget in terms of what the State might provide in general purpose aid. That question goes away if we have our fiscal year after the State’s.
Going to a two year budget cycle has huge benefits. It cuts the annual fight over the school budget in half. It allows the Town Manager and School Superintendent to make longer range plans than one 12-month period. They can spend more time managing their respective areas, and less time creating and fighting for a budget.
Limiting our municipal and school budgets to 3% per year will stabilize our tax rate. It will give the Town Manager and School Superintendent a number with which they can work without attempting to guess what the citizens may be willing to accept each year. Limiting the budgets will in turn stabilize the mil rate near 3% increases. Limiting the budgets will allow us to pay down our $100 million debt while putting money into our fund balance for future ‘emergency’ needs like the new fire truck last year.
Thank you for considering me as a candidate for Town Council.