South Portland council sends 3.5% school budget hike to voters

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SOUTH PORTLAND — City Councilors unanimously approved a $46 million school budget Monday night.

A public validation referendum is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9.

The state will subsidize 14.7 percent of the fiscal 2016 spending figure, leaving the rest – about $39.7 million – to be funded through taxes, Superintendent of Schools Suzanne Godin said at the May 18 meeting.

The budget is up about 3.5 percent from this year.

But the impact to the property tax rate is not yet clear, City Manager Jim Gailey said Wednesday. The City Council will meet June 8 to continue discussion on the municipal budget, and should have a clearer idea of the overall impact to the tax rate at that time, he said. 

The school budget includes nearly $3.7 million for student and staff support, more than $4.1 million for facilities maintenance, almost $2.4 million for school administration, more than $319,000 for career and technical education, and nearly $5 million for debt service and other commitments.

The council also approved an additional appropriation of $20,000, to be matched by state and federal grants, for adult education, as well as an additional $415,000 for the district’s food service program.

Councilor Nancy Linscott said when she added the numbers, they didn’t add up to the operating budget proposed by the district. 

“You must be adding wrong numbers because a School Department budget has to balance, and it does if you look at the tax calculation sheet,” Godin said. “It balances our total budget, what needs to be raised by taxes, (and) the revenue coming in.”

Godin, who will leave her job at the end of June after eight years as superintendent and three as assistant superintendent, thanked the council and taxpayers for their support throughout the budget process.

“I’d like to thank the taxpayers for their years of support and for continuing to allow us to provide the wide variety of services and programs that we provide to the students of South Portland,” she said. 

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

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.