April 30, 2013

Portland, school officials clash on budgeting for cutbacks

Mayor Michael Brennan urges schools to ignore proposed cuts in state revenue. Others disagree.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Board Chairman Jaimey Caron said the district did not want to repeat the financial debacle of 2007, when the district ended the year with a $2 million deficit.

"Some would argue we take the optimistic view of the not-yet-finalized state budget," Caron said, "but ... the parallels to the type of overly optimistic budgeting that got us in trouble in 2007 (were) too strong for the board to ignore."

Also, the district must provide 90 days notice to staff members being laid off.

"If we wait until July, we're going to have to cut deeper," board member Laurie Davis said.

Meanwhile, councilors were ambiguous about their limits for a tax increase.

Anton set a personal cap on the city-school tax increase at 2 percent, while Councilor Jill Duson said, under "extreme circumstance," she may support a 3 percent increase.

The proposed tax increase in the city portion of the budget is 3.3 percent.

Even under the best-case scenario, Anton said, the school budget is still too high.

He noted that even if one ignores the impact of the charter school and teacher pensions, the school budget would increase its share of the tax rate by 3.11 percent, while still cutting dozens of positions and giving $1.7 million in catch-up raises to teachers.

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:


Twitter: @randybillings


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