School budget, fuel depot bond on Scarborough ballot

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SCARBOROUGH — Voters will decide two local issues on June 13.

Residents will vote on $47 million in school spending and in a special municipal referendum to decide on borrowing to replace a fuel station.

The $42.7 million school budget for fiscal 2018 calls for a tax increase of 7.39 percent, or $2.9 million, over the current year’s $39.8 million budget. School revenues are down by 17.42 percent, primarily due to an expected $1.4 million loss in state subsidy. Expenditures are up 3.38 percent, driven by contractual obligations, including a new, three-year teacher contract.

The total combined school and town budget would be $65 million if voters approve the school portion of the budget. 

The Town Council approved the school budget during its May 17 meeting.

Also, at that meeting the council decided that if the School Department receives more than it expects from the state, the difference would be divided equally between property tax relief and the department’s fund balance, to offset property taxes in the future.

In 2015, Scarborough residents rejected the budget twice.  If that happens again, the council would have to propose another budget for another referendum.

The special referendum is the result of a Maine Department of Environmental Protection order requiring the town to replace the 1988 public works fuel station by 2018 and remove its underground storage tanks.

The ballot question authorizes the town to issue almost $700,000 in bonds to fund the replacement of the fuel station and move it to another portion of the public works facility at 20 Washington Ave.

In a letter to Scarborough residents, Public Works Director Mike Shaw said “the new fuel island will include above-ground tanks with a minimum life expectancy of 30 years and will provide all of the gasoline, diesel, and propane used by all town and school vehicles. What you are voting on is how the town of Scarborough will fund this investment. A yes vote will support the Town Council’s request to bond the money required and a no vote will require the money to come out of the town’s fund balance reserves.”

If approved and built, the town would be in compliance with the environmental protection order and avoid potential fines and penalties from the state.

Shaw also said the new fuel depot will have a 30-year life, and “we expect to see close to $3 million in savings. This cost-benefit analysis gave strong evidence to support planning for a replacement fuel island.”

All voting will take place at the Scarborough Municipal Building, 259 U.S. Route 1, from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. The deadline to submit an absentee ballot is June 8.

  Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.