Cape school budget cuts fail to avoid tax increase

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The School Board voted Monday to reduce its proposed contingency fund, trimming $163,000 from next year’s budget in response to a projected state subsidy cut of more than $500,000.

The Town Council is expected to match School Board efforts, transferring $200,000 from its undesignated funds to the school budget.

The additional $137,000 shortfall caused by the subsidy cut will be absorbed by taxpayers under the current budget proposal.

The proposal approved in March, which assumed that state subsidy would be unchanged from this year, included an increase of $381,000, or 1.93 percent, from this year’s school budget. That would have added 10 cents to the property tax rate. Combined with proposed decreases in the municipal budget, the total tax increase would have been nearly zero.

The newest proposal would add 20 cents to the tax rate for school services. Combined with the proposed municipal budget, which is set to decrease, the total tax rate would go up 11 cents, or 0.6 percent.

Though some councilors and School Board members hoped to see further cuts to bring the total tax increase back to zero, the School Board approved the revised budget by a 4-2 vote. Board members Linda Winker and Kathy Ray, who is also the board’s Finance Committee chairwoman, voted against the proposal and said they oppose any tax increase.

The public will be allowed comment at a public hearing Monday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall. The hearing will also be televised.

The Town Council will take a final vote on the combined budgets April 30, and the school budget will face validation from the public in a referendum scheduled for May 12.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or