SOUTH PORTLAND — Property taxes would increase 2.1 percent under the proposed combined school and municipal budget City Manager James Gailey delivered to the City Council on Monday.

The budget estimates that the property tax rate would increase 33 cents to $16.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The municipal portion accounts for $5.04, the schools $10.06, the reserve fund for renovation and construction at South Portland High School 31 cents and Cumberland County taxes 62 cents.

A public hearing with presentations on the municipal and school budgets will be held at 7 p.m. on April 6 at City Hall.

Spending for the municipal portion of the budget would increase 2.5 percent, or $1.9 million, to $80 million. The largest increases were: $409,322 for salaries and hourly wages; $216,900 for health insurance; $133,500 for Maine State Retirement and $109,659 for gas, oil and heating fuel.

The City Council had directed Gailey to produce a budget that would not increase taxes for the municipal side of the budget any more than 2.5 percent. Gailey put some of that increase toward building and vehicle maintenance, supplies and employee training.

Revenues are expected to be up 4.5 percent, or $431,287, to $10 million in the coming fiscal year. Still, Gailey noted, the city has lost about $2 million in revenue over the past three years.

“Past years’ reductions and eliminations have had an impact on the organization and over time has put pressure on the ability to provide the outstanding services that our public has come to rely upon,” Gailey wrote in his budget message.

Other items in the budget include:

n $111,769 for positions that weren’t previously funded for a full year: a firefighter, a police officer, an employee relations manager and a detective.

n A 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment.

n An additional $44,937 and $45,550 for maintenance of buildings and vehicles, respectively.

n $30,000 for a proposed local “circuit-breaker” program to provide tax rebates to qualifying homeowners.

n $400,000 in reserves to lessen the burden on property taxpayers.

Gailey’s proposed combined budget assumes the school budget will require no increase in taxes. The City Council, which must approve the bottom line for the school budget, had provided that guidance to school officials.

Last week, Superintendent Suzanne Godin presented a $42.4 million budget with no tax increase and 21 job cuts to the Board of Education. Godin also presented two other scenarios: one that would require a tax increase of 2.5 percent and another that took a “needs-based” approach.


Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

[email protected]