Reduced Scarborough budget gets chilly response

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SCARBOROUGH — With less than two weeks until budget approval is expected, residents expressed discontent about the spending plan in a May 1 Town Council public hearing.

The criticism came after the $70 million school and municipal budget proposed for fiscal year 2020 by Town Manager Tom Hall and Superintendent of Schools Julie Kukenberger was reduced April 10 by $1.3 million, to just less than $69 million.

The original proposal would have been a 6% increase over the current budget.

Some residents said the decision to reduce the proposal was unfair because they feel the needs of the schools are not being met.

Kelly Murphy, of Woodfield Drive, said Scarborough has a history of not investing in its schools. She said there is a need to fully fund school and municipal budgets.

“We can’t just decide we’re not going to fund public education and have private partnerships pick up the slack,” Murphy said. “The unmet needs that are part of this year’s budget offer a sad list that we can’t fund.”

Resident John Cloutier said he finds the budget to be reasonable and balanced, but it seems to have been assembled without much direction from the council or the School Board.

The school budget has a history of not being approved on first pass at the polls. Approval took two referendums in 2012, three votes in 2013 and two in 2014. The budget was rejected again in 2015, and again in 2017. In 2018, officials narrowly approved the school budget by 98 votes.

The last in a series of neighborhood budget meetings will be held at Wentworth School, Saturday, May 4, at 10 a.m. A joint Town Council-School Board workshop is set for 5:00 p.m. on May 6.

The Town Council will hold a second reading on the proposed fiscal 2020 budget on May 15, reflecting amendments and other additional operating expenditures that may result from the receipt of federal or state funds, or other grants and subsidies not requiring local taxation.

The School Board will finalize its budget the next night.

This year’s school budget validation referendum is on June 11.

Krysteana Scribner can be reached at kscribner@theforecaster.net or 780-9094. Follow her on Twitter: @krysteana2016.

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