BIDDEFORD – Mayor Alan Casavant last night vetoed the municipal and school budgets approved by the City Council, halting a citywide June 12 referendum on education spending.

A motion to override Casavant’s budget failed by a vote of 5-4. City Clerk Carmen Morris said a two-thirds majority, or six votes, are needed to override a veto.

The combined $59.9 million city and school budgets approved by the City Council were a 5.4 percent increase over the current budgets. It would have added $1.33 to the property tax rate, requiring owners of a $200,000 home to pay an additional $266 in property tax.

Residents were expected to vote next Tuesday on the $32.9 million school budget, but will instead wait until the council reconsiders and approves another budget proposal. 

The school budget rejected by Casavant was up 6.3 percent from the current year.

Casavant said today he received phone calls and emails from residents concerned about the property tax increase.

“I thought at least I could stop the process and demand further consideration,” he said. “I recognize the school budget didn’t get quite the same scrutiny as did the city side of the budget.”

Casavant believes the council should consider cutting $380,000 from the school budget and reducing the fire department budget.

“I don’t care where the money comes from, I just want to knock it down to make it more affordable to taxpayers,” he said.

Casavant expects to meet with councilors next week to discuss cuts and believes a budget will be in place by the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1.