Westbrook voters will decide June 10 whether to fund a new public services facility, approve a school budget and rescind a zone change for land off Westbrook Arterial.

Although the zoning question is the only one that doesn’t ask taxpayers to spend money, it has been the most controversial.

A citizens petition asks if residents want to overturn a decision made by the City Council in February to change the zoning of about 60 acres between Westbrook Arterial and Stroudwater Street.

The council split the land into two zones – 45 acres for commercial development and 15 acres for residential development – as proposed by Portland developer J.B. Brown & Sons, which has since purchased the property.

Overturning the decision would change the land back to a contract zone, which was developed for a massive, mixed-use retail and recreation center proposed in 2008 by former landowner Jason Snyder, who lost the land in foreclosure before the project got off the ground.

Snyder and his family circulated the petition.

Although the petition had the requisite number of signatures, the council debated about including the question on the ballot because of uncertainty over whether a contract zone can be imposed on an unwilling landowner – in this case, J.B. Brown.

The council decided to put the question out to voters, but with a disclaimer on the ballot that explains the situation and notes that the city “has serious concerns about the legality of this ordinance.”

In return, the petitioners also got space on the ballot to offer their position.

It says the new zone “removed all of the important development guidelines and standards that were in the best interest and welfare of our community, for design, environmental and financial health,” referring to what could have been built according to the contract zone.

“We believe these performance standards protect and enhance a major gateway to our city,” it says.

The council also took issue with the school budget this year, though it later had a change of heart.

The council initially rejected the proposed $34 million budget, saying the increase of $1.7 million, or 5.2 percent, from this fiscal year was too high.

The council later reconsidered its vote and approved the budget.

Among the proposed increases in spending are $481,000 for an additional teacher and four educational technicians in the special education and English language learner programs, contracted salary step increases and professional development.

The district also budgeted nearly $300,000 for potential pay increases for teachers and support staff, whose contracts are in negotiation.

The replacement of high school students’ 7-year-old laptops accounts for another $289,000.

Additional revenue from the state will offset all but about $130,000 of the increased spending, so the budget will add only $14 to the annual tax bill for a $200,000 home.

Another expense taxpayers will be asked about taking on is a $9 million bond to pay for the renovation and expansion and the city’s Public Services Department facility on Saco Street.

City officials say the existing building is in dire need of upgrades, including a new heating and ventilation system, which would cost more than the proposed project.

The plan would also save money by consolidating the department’s services, such as maintenance of school buses and public safety vehicles, which are currently done in different places.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: @lesliebridgers