The Saco City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday on proposed municipal and school budgets that would raise the property tax rate by $1.20 if approved without changes.
The City Council, which issued a directive to develop a 2018 budget that does not raise property taxes, has been reviewing a $51.8 million combined municipal and school budget and is scheduled to vote on a final budget May 8. About $42.7 million of the proposed budget would be paid using the tax levy.
The public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the City Hall auditorium. Following the public hearing and a regular council meeting, councilors will hold a budget workshop to review budget requests.
The city budget as proposed would not raise property taxes, but the school budget would, according to city officials.
ity Administrator Kevin Sutherland said in order to meet the council’s directive, the city absorbed the expected increase from the county tax bill and a projected loss from the Homestead Exemption, which required departments to cut 2.3 percent from their budget requests. Department heads were allowed to submit requests above the directive and Sutherland said he was able fund some of them using more than $165,000 in savings identified in his budget proposal. He suggests the council approves a number of those requests, including the addition of a human resources position and another inspector in the codes office.
The Saco School Board last month approved a $36.2 million budget, which will also need approval from the City Council and from residents during a June referendum.
The budget, which is up $2 million from the current year, would add $1.20 to the property tax rate, resulting in a property tax increase of about $255 annually on the tax bill for a $213,000 home, the median home value in the city.
Superintendent Dominic DePatsy presented a flat budget to the school board, but had to grapple with a projected state education subsidy loss of $280,000 and increases in salaries and health insurance costs. In an update to parents about the subsidy loss and proposed budget, DePatsy said proposed cuts – including nine education technicians, a curriculum director, alternative education teachers and capital improvements – would have a devastating impact on students.
After reducing the amount paid to Thornton Academy for tuition for high schoolers based on updated enrollment numbers, the school board approved a budget that restores several previously cut positions, including the alternative education teacher, nine education technicians and a curriculum director for the district.
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