SCARBOROUGH — Residents on Tuesday approved a $35.1 million school budget for fiscal 2010 by a vote of 620-459.
On an advisory question, Town Clerk Tody Justice said, 101 of the 620 affirmative voters indicated the budget was too high and 279 said it was too low. Of the 459 who voted against the budget, 203 felt it was too high and 246 too low. Ten voters provided no comment on why they had chosen to vote against it, Justice said.
There were 1,098 total votes. The turnout represents 7 percent of Scarborough’s 14,837 active registered voters. But it was a 78 percent increase in voter turnout over last year’s total of 616.
Ballots were counted by hand, and the count was completed just after 10 p.m.
The usual tension between the Town Council and the Board of Education over spending was increased in this year’s budget discussions by the Finance Committee’s request that the board cut additional money from the school budget, even though the proposed budget would not have raised the property tax rate.
Much of the controversy centered around teachers’ cost-of-living raises. Municipal and non-union school administrators agreed to forgo cost-of-living increases and councilors challenged teachers to do the same, initially withholding $807,000 from the proposed school budget.
Last week, the council voted to restore $450,000 to the proposed school budget. After factoring in removal of a 1 percent cost-of-living increase that was earmarked for teachers, the schools will get $190,000 less than they first requested and $49,000 more than they received last year, according to Town Manager Tom Hall. The $35.1 million total represents an increase in the school budget of 0.1 percent.
The combined fiscal 2010 school and municipal budgets will hold Scarborough’s tax rate to $12.15 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.