PORTLAND — Absentee ballots for the May 11 school budget referendum are available at City Hall, but they cannot be returned until at least May 4 because the City Council must first approve the school budget.

The council vote is scheduled for May 3.

The ballot will ask residents if they approve the school budget passed by the council and whether they want to continue to vote annually on the school budget.

The council is currently considering a $90 million budget that was approved by the School Committee. Although the budget is 1.4 percent lower than current spending, it is expected to increase the property tax rate by 1.2 percent because of losses in state and federal revenue and increased operating costs.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 11. 

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