Education budget rejected, but land easement gets OK

Old Orchard Beach residents on Tuesday rejected a $12.5 million education budget and approved a land easement to allow for parking and handicap accessibility improvements at the Harmon Museum.

The proposed $12.5 million school budget was the first developed since Dayton and Saco voted to leave Regional School Unit 23, which now consists solely of Old Orchard Beach. The budget was rejected by a vote of 490 to 514.

The budget would have added $1.27 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or about $254 to the tax bill of a $200,000 home.

With a vote of 515-484, voters approved a referendum question to grant a land easement to Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution to build and maintain a parking lot behind the Harmon Museum, which does not have parking or a handicap-accessible entrance.

The permanent easement agreement allows the bank to build a parking lot behind the Harmon Museum that will be used for both bank employees and museum visitors. The bank also will build a handicap-accessible pathway from the parking lot and a ramp to the museum’s front door. The bank will seek planning board approval for the parking lot.

Voters approve budget of $27.3 million for schools

Voters in Durham, Freeport and Pownal went to the polls Tuesday and approved a proposed $27.3 million budget for Regional School Unit 5.

Voters approved the budget by a 1,264 to 908 vote.

The 2014-15 budget is up $1.5 million or 5.5 percent higher than the current $25.8 million spending plan, according to budget documents.

Citizens at the May 28 annual budget meeting supported the budget approved by the Board of Directors with an amendment to add $33,257 for additional substitute teachers. About $1.2 million of the increase is related to wages and benefits for existing staff or new teachers.

Superintendent Shannon Welch urged citizens of each town to get to their respective polling places on Tuesday: Durham Community School, Freeport High School and Mallet Hall in Pownal.

SAD 51
Towns approve 4.3 percent increase in school budget

Voters in Cumberland and North Yarmouth approved a 4.3 percent spending increase for School Administrative District 51 for the coming year.

Residents voted in favor of the increase by a 1,003 to 623 vote.

On June 5, residents of the two towns overwhelmingly approved the proposed $32.6 million school budget by a 57 to 6 public vote held at Greely High School, according to Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane.

Tuesday’s referendum asked voters to approve a school budget proposal that’s $1.3 million higher than the current $31.3 million spending plan, according to budget documents. The increase covers a variety of additional spending for technology upgrades, curriculum changes and charter school tuition.

Voters approve school budget of $35.6 million

Brunswick residents on Tuesday passed a $35.6 million school budget.

The Town Council voted on May 29 to adopt a combined municipal and school budget with expenditures of slightly more than $58 million. Brunswick taxpayers will be responsible for $36.5 million of that total after accounting for other revenue sources, state aid and transfers from other accounts.

The budget was passed 1,513 to 794.
Brunswick property owners would see a tax increase of 3.5 percent under the combined municipal and school budget. Council members trimmed other areas of the budget – such as for paving projects – in order to hold the tax rate hike below 4 percent in the face of rising education costs and shrinking state support.

Voters approve school budget increase of 3.5 percent

South Portland voters approved a 2014-15 school budget Tuesday by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

The vote was 1,127 to 530 in favor of a 3.5 percent spending increase, according to City Clerk Susan Mooney.

The $44.8 million budget is $1.5 million higher than the $43.3 million current spending plan, said city Finance Director Greg L’Heureux.

New positions proposed for the coming school year include an eighth-grade teacher, an autism specialist at the high school and four special-education technicians, according to school board budget documents.

Meanwhile, the combined $32.5 million municipal and county budget proposal is up about $1 million over the current $31.3 million total.

With the approved school budget, the city’s tax rate is set to increase 52 cents, or about 3 percent, from $16.70 to $17.22 per $1,000 of assessed property value. At the higher rate, the annual tax bill on a $250,000 home would increase $130, from $4,175 to $4,305.

Voters say yes to school budget of $23.2 million

Cape Elizabeth voters approved a $23.2 million school budget Tuesday that will increase education spending by $712,100, or 3.2 percent, in 2014-15.

The vote was 705 to 278, according to results posted on the town’s website.

The Town Council had approved an overall $27.9 million spending plan for municipal, school, county and community services that would add 52 cents to the current tax rate of $16.28 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The proposed school budget represents 49 cents of that increase, according to town documents.

The school budget calls for expanding the full-day kindergarten pilot program to serve all incoming students, at a one-time cost of $90,000, and replacing the inefficient boiler at the elementary school, which is projected to save 10,000 gallons of fuel per year.

Voters favoring budget of $45.6 million for school

Supporters of a proposed $45.6 million budget for the Maine School Administrative District 6 outnumbered opponents in a partial tally late Tuesday.

The Bonny Eagle district includes Buxton, Frye Island, Hollis, Limington and Standish. With Buxton, Standish and Limington reporting, the vote was 1,249 to 902.

The budget is up 2.36 percent, or just over $1 million, from the current budget and maintains the same level of educational programming. If the budget is approved, annual property taxes on a $200,000 home would decrease by $12.37 in Standish and increase by $75.96 in Buxton, $59.02 in Hollis, $117.01 on Frye Island and $36.71 in Limington.

Modest increases approved for school, city spending

Sanford residents voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to approve proposed municipal and school budgets, and to clarify the process to appeal City Council votes.

Just over 1,700 of the city’s 13,300 registered voters cast ballots.

The $21.6 million municipal budget was approved by a vote of 1,070 to 621. The budget is up 1.86 percent or $395,117 from the current year. City Manager Steven Buck said the proposed budget maintains city services and programs but reduces or cuts four positions.

The $35.1 million school budget was approved by a vote of 1,079 to 618. The budget is up 1.15 percent, or about $399,000, from the current year.

The district saw a minimal increase of less than $100,000 in the state education subsidy, while also dealing with significant increases in fixed costs such as oil and contracted teacher raises.

Residents also voted 963 to 607 in favor of a $1.5 million bond for school energy conservation projects, including improvements to the roofing system, windows, exterior walls, heating, ventilation, electrical systems and lighting at Sanford High School.

Residents voted 917 to 598 to repeal a time limit to file petitions to overturn City Council votes. After a new charter was approved in 2012, it gave no time constraints for filing a request for petitions.

To remedy that omission, the City Council voted to add language to specify that residents have 14 days after a council vote to request a petition.

RSU 14
Biggest budget increase in district history passes

Voters in Windham and Raymond on Tuesday approved the biggest school budget increase in the history of the two-town district, which consolidated in 2009.

The 2014-2015 budget passed in both towns, 1,067 to 573.

The $41.1 million spending plan is $1.4 million, or 3.5 percent, higher than this year’s budget.

A 5 percent increase in health insurance costs accounted for $450,000 in additional spending. Students going to charter schools and an increase in students going to vocational schools added $131,000 and $112,000, respectively.

The annual tax bill on a $250,000 home will increase by $34.32 in Windham and $87.39 in Raymond.

The district, also known as Regional School Unit 14, has about 3,300 students in seven schools.

School budget approved with 3 percent increase

Biddeford residents on Tuesday approved a $34.3 million school budget that includes new sources of revenue to make up for some funding losses.

The budget was approved 1,012 to 743. In a related question, 747 voters said the budget proposal was too high, and 82 said it was too low. More than 12 percent of Biddeford’s 13,5000 registered voters cast ballots.

The 2014-15 budget is up about $973,000, or 3 percent over the current budget, but requires only a 0.54 percent increase in revenue from taxes.

Superintendent Jeremy Ray said the district lost $311,000 in state aid and then lost $65,000 in federal Title I funding, requiring the elimination of a half-time Title I teaching position.

School officials offset some of the loss with new revenue through an agreement with Dayton to share central office staff and an agreement with Old Orchard Beach to share a food service director.

Biddeford officials are not providing estimates of how much the proposed budget would affect the property tax rate.

Expanded kindergarten included in school vote

Residents decided Tuesday to finally add a full-day kindergarten program in their schools by approving the eduation budget for 2014-2015.

The $536,00 cost to upgrade from a half-day program was part of a $1.2 million increase in the $34.2 million school budget that residents passed 1,040 to 383.

Other additions include $40,000 for capital projects and security; $111,000 for charter school tuition and $87,500 for a science, technology, engineering and mathematics program at the high school.

The department was also able to save $150,000 by not filling positions vacated by retirements.The budget for the district, which has 2,666 students and five schools, will raise the tax rate by 22 cents per $1,000 in assessment, adding $55 to the annual tax bill of a $250,000 home.

Education budget won’t increase property taxes

Saco approved a $32.9 million education budget, the first proposed since the city voted last year to withdraw from Regional School Unit 23.

Residents voted 889 to 256 in favor of the budget, which will not impact property taxes.

The budget allows the district to invest in technology and hire several teachers, according to district officials. The budget includes several new positions, such as a literacy education technician at the Young School, an elementary school nurse and a part-time teacher at the C.K. Burns School for gifted and talented students.

An additional state subsidy of $197,000 allows the district to pay back the city of Saco for debt incurred during the RSU withdrawal process and increase the contingency fund. Some costs could not be ignored, including a $40,000 payment to RSU 23 to help set up a new central office in Old Orchard Beach, and startup costs to hire a superintendent and budget director, negotiate contracts and develop a budget.

Zone change on 60-acre lot is kept in place by voters

Westbrook voters decided Tuesday not to overturn a zone change for 60 acres off Westbrook Arterial, allowing a proposed development to move forward and likely avoiding a lawsuit.

Also Tuesday, the city’s residents approved borrowing $9 million for a renovated and expanded public services facility and passed a $34 million school budget.

The zoning question came from a citizens petition, initiated by former landowner Jason Snyder, to overturn a decision by the City Council in February to split land between Westbrook Arterial and Stroudwater Street into two zones – 15 acres for commercial development and 45 acres for residential development.

The land had been under a contract zone developed for a massive retail project, proposed by Snyder, that never got off the ground. He lost the property in foreclosure.

The zoning was changed to make way for a project proposed by Portland developer J.B. Brown & Sons, which has since purchased the land.

Lawyers for J.B. Brown and the city have said they believe it would be illegal to impose a contract zone on an unwilling landowner. With the 1,110 to 702 vote against repealing the zone change, they won’t have to worry about it.

The school budget of $1.7 million or 5.2 percent higher than the current budget, was approved, 1,289-524.

Increases in spending include additional staff in the English language learners and special education programs, potential salary increases from new contracts and replacement laptops for high school students.

With the tax rate offset by additional revenue from the state, the budget adds $14 to the annual tax bill for a $200,000 home.

Residents also voted, 1,082-741, to borrow $9 million for an upgrade of the city’s Public Services Department facility. The project also allows the department to consolidate its services into one facility.

Slimmer school budget wins approval by narrow margin

Scarborough voters approved a revamped 2014-15 school budget on Tuesday by a 185-vote margin, after rejecting an earlier version on May 13.

The vote was 1,598 to 1,413, according to Town Clerk Tody Justice.

The Town Council trimmed $324,000 from the $42.5 million proposed budget that voters rejected, according to budget documents. The approved $42.3 million budget is about $1.5 million less than initially requested by Superintendent George Entwistle.

The first referendum failed by a vote of 1,169 to 1,013, with 14.2 percent of the town’s 15,318 voters turning out at the polls.

In a nonbinding advisory ballot question, 1,257 voters said the initial budget proposal was too high, 370 said it was too low and 516 said it was acceptable.

If the second referendum had failed, the town was required to hold another budget meeting within 10 days to approve an alternative budget proposal and schedule a third validation referendum.

Increased school budget wins by wide margin

Yarmouth residents approved a $21.2 million school budget for 2014-2015 on Tuesday.

Although spending will increase by 1.8 percent, the town’s overall tax rate is expected to decrease 1.5 percent.

The school budget approved Tuesday, 1,187 to 299, is $374,000 higher than the current $20.8 million spending plan.

The town’s total budget, including municipal and county spending, is set to increase $840,510, or 2.6 percent, from $32.7 million to $33.6 million.

The tax rate, however, is expected to decrease 33 cents, or 1.5 percent, from $22 to $21.67 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The spending increase will be more than offset by an additional $570,000 in state education funding and new sewer fees.

Voters OK increased school budget, but it won’t affect tax rate

Falmouth voters overwhelmingly approved a 2014-15 school budget Tuesday that’s set to increase 4.76 percent, but it will have no impact on the tax rate.

The vote was 1,923 to 385 in favor of the $31.7 million spending plan, which represents a $1.4 million increase over the current budget of $30.2 million, according to town documents.

The spending increase is projected to be offset by a $1.1 million increase in state revenue and a $300,000 increase in property taxes on new homes.

Budget highlights include 3.6 additional educational technicians in the special education program, technology and transportation increases and debt service for middle school improvements.

At $14.12 per $1,000 of assessed property value, Falmouth’s current tax rate is the lowest among 11 communities in Greater Portland.



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