Scarborough voters approve school budget on first try

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SCARBOROUGH — For the first time in almost five years, voters approved an annual school budget the first time it was presented at the polls. 

Residents approved a $47.5 million school budget at the June 14 primary election, 1,972 to 1,544, according to Town Clerk Tody Justice. 

In a second question, residents also voted 2,334 to 1,134 to continue the school budget validation referendum process for another three years. 

Voting against the question would have meant the school budgets would be adopted by elected municipal officials and the board of education, rather than ratified by a public referendum vote. 

Residents are expected to be responsible for covering about $39.8 million of the budget through taxes. Combined with the municipal budget, the gross budget totals $87.8 million. The town will be expected to raise a net amount of $60.3 million through taxes.

The projected increase in the tax rate is 2.65 percent, to $15.90 per $300,000 of valuation – up 41 cents from $15.49 this year. The increase would mean an additional $123 on the average homeowner’s annual tax bill.

Approving a school budget has been a tenuous undertaking in recent years. In 2015, voters defeated the budget in two referendums before it was finally approved on the third try. Since 2011, Scarborough voters have rejected budget referendums a total of 10 times.

A lack of public comment about the budget at Town Council meetings foreshadowed what came to be a comparably easy approval process.

Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina said she “couldn’t be happier” that the budget had passed on the first attempt.

She said she was “gratified that the people of Scarborough recognize the hard work that the Town Council (completed) with the School Board members to put together a budget that meets the needs of everybody.”

Overall, she said, the budget process was “very open and transparent.”

Primaries

None of the city’s legislative primaries were contested.

In House District 27, which includes part of Gorham and Scarborough, incumbent Andrew McLean won the Democratic nomination for a third time. James Means secured the Republican nomination.

In House District 28, which covers the town from east to west, Republican state Rep. Heather Sirocki  won her fourth nomination. Town Councilor Chris Caiazzo, who’s running for his first term, won the Democratic nomination.

In House District 29, which covers southern Scarborough, Republican state Rep. Karen Vachon won her second nomination. The Democratic candidate is Mary Starr.

State Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, won her third nomination in Senate District 29, which covers Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and Scarborough.

Scarborough Town Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina won the Democratic nomination in Senate District 30. The seat is occupied by first-term state Sen. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, who won her party’s nomination for a second time. District 30 includes parts of both Scarborough and Gorham.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA. 

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.