Brunswick voters approve $36.5M school budget

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BRUNSWICK — Voters passed a $36.5 million school budget Tuesday, 779-490.

“We are appreciative of the support we see in the community for the school budget,” School Board member Rich Ellis said after the votes had been counted. “Now we are eager to get back to work.”

The fiscal 2016 budget represents about a 2.3 percent increase over this year’s spending.

The total municipal budget includes almost $60 million in expenditures, requiring a 3.5 percent hike the the property tax rate. The current mil rate of $27.40 per $1,000 of assessed value will rise to $28.36.

In early budget deliberations, the Town Council, through Town Manager John Eldridge, asked the School Board to cut $750,000 in proposed School Department spending.

The board did not make the full cut, and instead shaved about $400,000. The council approved the reduced budget after the board made another $60,000 cut.

Ellis said the School Board learned a lot through the budget process, and stressed the importance of engaging the Town Council “a little sooner.” He added that the board’s finance committee will be discussing other strategies to smooth out the often contentious process.

“We’re happy that the community felt that they would support (the budget) and we’re looking forward to another productive school year,” Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said Wednesday.

As for next year’s budget, “we’re hoping we have more information from both the council and School Board ahead of time, so we can at least guess-timate some possible scenarios,” he said.

“The problem with any year’s process is you don’t have all the information needed at the time that you start, and you don’t really get it all … by the time you end it,” Perzanoski added.

The referendum drew a turnout of 8 percent of registered voters, which is not unusual for a non-primary election, according to Town Clerk Fran Smith.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

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Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.