- Police Beat
- The Forecaster
SOUTH PORTLAND — Voters on June 11 will be asked to ratify a $52.3 million school budget approved this week by the City Council.
Residents will also be asked to vote on whether they want to continue voting on the school budget for an additional three years.
The 19 resolves that make up the school budget, which was passed at a School Board meeting on May 13, were unanimously approved by the council May 21. Councilor April Caricchio was absent for the Tuesday meeting.
The proposed budget is up $2.3 million from current spending, will require a 3.41 percent tax increase, and relies on an increase in property tax revenues from $42.9 million to $44.5 million.
The cost would be partially offset by an anticipated $600,000 increase in state aid to education, to $6.8 million. It would be the second-highest amount of state aid in six years.
In an interview on May 15, Superintendent of Schools Ken Kunin said total non-tax revenue was up 5.25 percent this year. Despite the year-to-year increase, he said non-property tax revenue for next year will still be down 4.75 percent from fiscal year 2018, which shows the state subsidy has not kept up with school expenses.
He also said the budget uses a three-year average for the state’s valuations of city properties, instead of two years, and relies less on department reserves than it has in prior years. It projects using $250,000 of $1.48 million in surplus from the fiscal year 2018 budget.
The proposed budget adds a special education teacher to the middle and high schools, and eliminates three vacant educational technical positions.
Capital spending improvements total $814,000, with just over $300,000 reserved for iPads, laptop computers and other student technology resources.
“In order for South Portland to continue keeping up with the technology and the rest of America, we want our kids to have the best education, be a great community and provide them with what they need to succeed,” said Councilor Misha Pride, who seconded the motion to approve the budget by Councilor Maxine Beecher.
A $7,000 reduction in transportation costs, now at $2.3 million, is also included in the budget proposal. Debt service was approved at the original estimate of $4.5 million proposed on March 11.
The combined municpal and school budgets would add 42 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to the property tax rate, while increasing overall spending by 4 percent. The overall city property tax rate is anticipated to be $19.17 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 3.6%, with $12.74 of the rate funding education.