May 3, 2013

Portland school budget ignores state proposal

The budget assumes the Legislature will not shift $1.3 million in pension costs to the city's school district.

By Randy Billings
Staff Writer

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Mayor Michael Brennan, however, believes the city could figure out a way to pay for any increased costs passed down from the state without going back out to referendum -- a position that has put him at odds with a city and a school attorney.

If voters reject additional increases or the council chooses not to go back out to referendum, schools would be forced to make deeper budget cuts.

According to an analysis by Mike Wilson, the school's chief finance officer, the district would have to cut an additional 24.6 positions if the state budget passes with the pension changes.

The school board's chairman, Jaimey Caron, said after the meeting that the $98 million budget would have given the district more flexibility and would not have required subsequent referendums.

However, Caron acknowledged the city's concerns over how the schools planned to pay for some additional costs -- particularly the school's use of $1.3 million in surplus funds, which could increase the city's borrowing costs.

"We're all trying to figure out what the state is going to do," Caron said. "There are no easy options."


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

Twitter: @randybillings


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