Council schedules Scarborough school budget referendum

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SCARBOROUGH — The amount has not been set, but councilors Wednesday approved May 14 as the referendum date for the fiscal year 2014 school budget.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. at Town Hall, and voters will also be asked a nonbinding question on whether the budget is too high, too low, or acceptable. The Education Reorganization Act passed by the Legislature in 2007 requires local referendums on education budgets.

Councilor Jessica Holbrook was unable to attend the meeting, and was selected as council liaison to the new ad-hoc Historic Preservation Advisory Committee. Joining Holbrook on the committee are Rodney Laughton of the Scarborough Historical Society, former Planning Board member Susan Auglis, and residents Dawna Libby and Sara Wiley.

Town Clerk Tody Justice said a town staffer will also be part of the committee charged with assessing and advising on what areas and parcels in town might be preserved.

Creating the committee was a specific goal of Holbrook’s for this year. Members will draft a plan and recommendations for council consideration and look into funding sources before reporting to the council in a year.

Councilor Ed Blaise was named liaison to the new employee incentive program approved by councilors March 6. The program seeking employee input on cost savings was a goal Blaise outlined at a January workshop.

The program will be supervised by a committee of three municipal employees (including one from human resources), Blaise and a citizen representative. Town Manager Tom Hall and municipal department heads are ineligible for the program, which will reward employees with 10 percent of any savings between $1,000 and $3,000 and $100 for savings under $1,000 that result from their suggestions.

The savings will be measured over a year in terms of increased productivity, standardizing operations, reducing costs and duplication of effort, or improved safety. Employees who leave a municipal job before the year is done remain eligible for the awards.

Councilor also approved establishing a reserve fund to help residents age 62 and older pay property taxes. The reserve fund will use any annual surplus from the current property tax assistance program, instead of putting the surplus back into the town’s general fund.

The town manager will be allowed to use the reserve fund in the event assistance requests exceed the annual budgeted amount.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.