Scarborough’s school budget referendum is Tuesday. The ballot proposal calls for a 7.4 percent increase in annual taxpayer funding of the schools.

While the community only votes on the school portion of the budget, 68 percent of the taxpayer funds raised are for the school system. The school and municipal budgets work together to produce the town budget. My greatest concern with the fiscal 2018 town budget is its dependence on debt to limit our property tax growth to 3.5 percent.

Within the school and municipal budgets there is about $6 million of new debt. If the related capital items were paid for currently instead of borrowing money, the estimated property tax rate increase would skyrocket to above 11 percent. Scarborough already has an existing debt load of about $90 million. Our debt per resident significantly exceeds surrounding communities and is arguably one of the highest levels in the state.

The proposed budget calls for raising $63 million from Scarborough taxpayers. Paying the debt service on our present debt already requires about 12 cents of every taxpayer dollar.

Granted, certain capital assets serve a long-term purpose and are a perfect fit for debt. In personal life, committing to a home purchase is far different from regularly using the credit card for short-term expenses and growing a balance that is not paid off at the end of the month. I hold a serious concern not only about Scarborough’s current debt level, but also about the mentality that accepts solving short-term challenges through the use of debt.

The town is contemplating a new public safety building, which will likely require over $15 million of debt. We need to begin improving our town debt situation with this budget cycle. My only option to object to the overall budget is to vote “no” Tuesday.

John Frazier

Scarborough