SCARBOROUGH – Nearly everyone who spoke at the recent public hearing on Scarborough’s proposed new fiscal year budget of $57.4 million said they could not afford the 87-cent increase now on the table.

The property tax increase, as proposed, would be $15.64 per $1,000 of valuation, which represents a tax bill increase of $261 for a home valued at $300,000, Town Manager Tom Hall said at the April 16 meeting.

While Hall said he “could not stress enough that this is still an ongoing process,” many of those who stood at the podium last week said enough is enough when it comes to adding to their tax burden.

Larry Pelletier said the budget as proposed, which represents $29.5 million on the town side and $43.4 million on the school side, has no basis in reality.

He said in comparing the overall 7.7-percent increase in gross spending to the consumer price index, which for the past three years has been well under 4 percent, Pelletier said people simply can’t afford the increase in the budget.

“There is absolutely no correlation between this budget and the consumer price index. There are not too many of us in this room getting 10-percent increases in our wages,” he added while referring to the school budget in particular, which calls for a 9.7-percent increase in spending.

“You have to try to find a way to come in with a more realistic budget,” Pelletier said. “You can’t keep raising taxes every year by this amount.”

Robert Rovner agreed and said, “I don’t know why we don’t ever discuss a moratorium on spending.” And argued that the budget, as proposed, “makes no sense to me.”

And Michael Turek said he was under the impression that the Town Council wanted to see a budget that had no tax increase and therefore asked why councilors even accepted the budget as presented in early April.

“Why even accept this budget?” he asked. “You should have stopped the process right then and sent it back. I can’t afford another tax increase.”

Turek said he’s only received a 4 percent increase in his income during the past several years and so the council “needs to look at what we really, really need.”

He also suggested that if the council passes the budget as proposed, citizens should initiate a recall of all seven.

Wally Fengler, who is 73, said he couldn’t retire due in part to his property tax burden, which he said has increased 18 percent in the past four years.

“I strongly encourage you to keep the budget in check,” he said.

Only one person spoke in defense of the proposed spending package – Dick Springer.

“I don’t like to pay taxes anymore than anyone else, but (even with the proposed tax rate increase) Scarborough has the lowest (tax) rate in Cumberland County,” he said.

A CLOSER LOOK

The town of Scarborough will hold a final vote on the combined new fiscal year municipal and school budget at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7.

In addition, the Town Council and the Board of Education will hold a joint budget workshop on April 30, also at 7 p.m.

The townwide school budget referendum vote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 13, and all voting will take place at Town Hall.


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