Scarborough voters asked to 'correct' school spending

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SCARBOROUGH — Residents on Tuesday will vote on a proposed $37.4 million “correction year” education budget. 

Polls open at 7 a.m. May 15 in Council Chambers at the Scarborough Municipal Building. Absentee ballots are available, and must be returned by 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 15.

The fiscal 2013 budget represents an approximate $1.7 million increase in spending over this year, and a $2.9 million increase in taxes.

That disparity is caused by the revenue shortfall caused when federal stimulus and Jobs Bill funds ran dry. School and municipal officials  are calling fiscal 2013 as a “correction year.”

Still, the budget is $1.8 million less than Superintendent George Entwistle III’s original proposal. Those savings were made by cutting a new school bus, $150,000 in technology spending, a kindergarten teacher position and other operating costs.

Other costs, such as health and dental insurance for faculty and wage projections for new employees are predicted to come in lower than originally expected.

“This budget stops deterioration of educational quality, and it promotes slow but certain movement toward becoming the high-performance school district that the community expects and deserves,” Entwistle recently said in a letter. 

Entwistle said that while percentage increases seem high this year, that’s because adequate investment wasn’t made in previous years. Even if this seemingly large budget is passed, annual expenditure increases from 2009-2013 will average only about 2 percent.

If the proposed budget is accepted by voters, education costs will contribute an additional 80 cents to the property rate, bringing the total rate for education up to $8.96 per $1,000 of property value.

Combined with the municipal and county budgets, which are not up for a vote, the total property tax rate would be $13.93 per $1,000, up 90 cents. For the average Scarborough homeowner, that’s an extra $270 per year in property taxes, or an additional $5.19 per week.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.