SCARBOROUGH – Property taxes will go up slightly if proposed school and municipal budgets are left untouched by the Town Council.

Town Manager Thomas J. Hall presented the combined $62.8 million budget Wednesday night.

Councilors took no action. Beginning Tuesday, the council’s Finance Committee will hold a series of budget work sessions before bringing its recommendations back to the Town Council for final adoption May 4.

Hall said the $35.3 million school budget would eliminate 23 positions. The $27.6 million municipal budget affects only two jobs.

“The persistent economic downturn and related reduction in non-property tax revenues (such as excise tax) continues to present challenges and constraints,” Hall told the council.

The council also held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance change that would ban the use of all tobacco products at three town-owned beaches — Higgins Beach, Pine Point Beach and Ferry Beach on Prouts Neck.

Only one person testified against the smoking ban while several implored the council to enact the ban to protect children and nonsmokers from secondhand smoke.

The measure banning tobacco products will come back to the Town Council next month for final action.

“Yes, it’s going to take some time for this to be accepted by the public, but we need to start somewhere,” said Sharman Kivatsky, the resident who raised the issue last fall.

Several speakers noted that secondhand smoke has been documented as contributing to health problems such as heart attacks and asthma.

“In my mind, the connection is pretty clear. There should be no smoking in public places, especially on Scarborough’s beaches,” said Randy Barr, a Scarborough physician.

But Tom Schneller, a smoker, said he was disappointed with the law. He has been surf fishing for 45 years and makes a point to stand away from others when he is smoking. He also picks up his cigarette butts.

“In my 45 years of fishing I have never left a butt on the beach. I look at myself as a steward of the beach,” Schneller said.

Under the proposed 2011-2012 budget, Scarborough’s tax rate would have to be increased from $12.63 to $12.96. Hall said that means a home assessed at $300,000 would see a $99 tax bill increase if the budgets go through without changes.

On the municipal side, a recycling coordinator position, which is shared by Saco and Scarborough, would be eliminated. A code officer position would only be funded for half the fiscal year.

Hall’s proposal also calls for a 2.5 percent cost of living increase — the first increase in two years — for all of the town’s non-union employees.

School officials have said their proposed budget will cut about 12 full-time teachers, as well as several counselor and ed tech jobs.

A hearing on the school budget will be held tonight at 7 in Town Hall.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]