Scarborough council cuts $225K from school budget as it heads to voters

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SCARBOROUGH — A $35.5 million school budget is heading to voters Tuesday after the Town Council slashed $225,000 from the School Board’s proposal on Wednesday night.

The School Board had added $545,000 into the budget initially, reducing the number of positions the superintendent cut from 24 to 16. It is likely some of those cuts will return.

The town and school budgets would raise taxes 2.89 percent, bringing the property tax rate up 36 cents to $12.99 per $1,000 of assessed value. The budget passed the council, 6-1, with Councilor Karen D’Andrea opposed.

“It’s not something we love, it’s not something we hate, but it’s something we can live with,” Council Chairwoman Judy Roy said. 

The council Finance Committee recommendation of $278,000 in cuts from the municipal budget was accepted Wednesday evening, too, with the exception of an addition of $71,000 back in for contributions to nonprofit agencies, such as Southern Maine Agency on Aging and the Scarborough Land Trust. Those contributions had been removed in the committee’s recommended budget. 

The committee will meet in the next few weeks to decide which agencies will receive those contributions.

Construction of a Higgins Beach bath house was removed from the town’s capital improvement budget, which does not directly impact the mil rate. That structure was expected to cost $290,000.

D’Andrea made several attempts to cut various municipal budget lines, trying to find a way, she said, to move the $225,000 cut from the school side to the municipal side. 

“I get tons of emails and phone calls. Every year people say ‘don’t cut the school budget any more,’ yet we still continue to cut the school budget,” she said. “We almost take better care of our public works trucks than our kids in school.”

All of D’Andrea’s amendments, including cuts to the Scarborough Economic Development Corp. and the town’s Geographic Information System, failed or were withdrawn.

Polls will be open Tuesday, May 10, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the council chambers at Town Hall, for the school budget validation vote and the special election for state Senate District 7.

Last year the school budget failed at the first referendum. It passed in a second vote after the council restored $100,000.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.