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South Portland, Scarborough, Cape school budgets go to voters

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South Portland, Scarborough, Cape school budgets go to voters

SOUTH PORTLAND — City residents, and residents of Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, will vote June 9 in their respective school budget validation referendums.

The City Council unanimously approved a school budget of approximately $46.1 million on May 18.

The state is expected to subsidize 14.7 percent of the fiscal 2016 spending plan, leaving the rest – about $39.7 million – to be funded through taxes, Superintendent of Schools Suzanne Godin said at the May 18 meeting.

The budget is up about 3.5 percent from this year.

The impact to the property tax rate is not yet clear, City Manager James Gailey said May 20. The City Council will meet June 8 to continue discussing the municipal budget, and should have a clearer idea of the overall impact to the tax rate at that time, he said. 

Polls at the South Portland Community Center, at 21 Nelson Road, will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9. To request an absentee ballot, call the city clerk’s office at 767-7601. Absentee ballots are available through June 4.

For more election information visit the city website.

Cape Elizabeth 

Cape Elizabeth residents will vote on a $23.5 million school budget, which requires no tax increase over the current year. 

The School Board's proposed budget of $23.6 million was cut by the Town Council on May 11. Despite alternate options presented by the School Board, councilors voted 4-3 to have a flat tax rate.

Although the School Department budget would still increase by $296,000, or 1.3 percent, the budget going before voters will have no increase from the current tax rate of $12.19. The original school budget would have raised the rate by seven cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

The $110,000 cut from the original budget comes from eliminating $50,000 for new accounting software; reducing funds for a new School Department website by $10,000; cutting $35,000 that would have been spent on sharing a new human resources employee with the town; reducing spending on furniture and supplies at the schools by more than $5,200, and reducing spending on various items in the student and staff support, superintendent, and facilities budgets by $10,300. 

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 9 in the high school gym. There will also be a ballot question asking voters whether they think the proposed budget is too high, too low, or just right.

Scarborough 

Scarborough town councilors on May 20 approved a net school budget of approximately $39 million, an increase of about 8 percent from this year. 

If the budget is approved, the impact on the mil rate is expected to be $10.53 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 76 cents from this year. 

Combined with the municipal budget for a net sum of $59.3 million, the property tax rate would be $15.97 per $1,000 of assessed value. Taxes would increase by $261 on a home valued at $300,000, for an annual tax bill of nearly $4,800, compared with $4,530 this year.

Included in the school capital budget is a request to purchase laptop computers for each student at Scarborough High School, at a cost of approximately $733,000 in the first year. 

The approved figure is more than $130,000 less than the initially proposed cost of about $866,000. The cost per unit per year is $413, and will require a student fee of $60 per device. 

Polls will be open in Town Council Chambers, 259 U.S. Route 1, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 9.

Absentee ballots can be requested by calling the town clerk's office at 730-4020. Ballots must be returned to the Scarborough Municipal Building no later than 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9.

Kate Gardner contributed to this report. Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA