The Westbrook City Council gave initial approval Monday to the operating budgets of the city and the school department, totaling $55.1 million.

Next Monday, the council will hold a public hearing and a final vote on the budgets.

Together, the 2011-12 budgets would raise property taxes by 4.2 percent, which is the same as 70 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value or $132 for the owner of $190,000 home.

Residents will vote June 14 on the school budget, which is slightly less than $30.9 million and accounts for 44 cents of the tax rate increase.

Interim Superintendent Marc Gousse said last week that the budget calls for the elimination of 42 positions. That’s about half of the jobs initially targeted for cuts.

The $24.3 million municipal budget, approved by the city’s Finance Committee last week, would raise taxes by 26 cents.

Although there would be no increase in the cost of municipal services from this year, the tax increase is needed to cover a shortfall of nearly $500,000 due to the continued decline of excise taxes and building permit fees, among other sources of revenue.

Also Monday, the council approved spending $300,000 for Westbrook-based Sebago Technics to design a renovation of the city’s Public Services Department building on Saco Street. That money is in the 2010-11 budget, which runs through June 30.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the department needs more work space for employees and room for equipment storage. In the best-case scenario, he said, the City Council would vote on the project next spring and the building would be complete in 2013.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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