Scarborough officials are preparing to hold a second referendum on the 2017-18 school budget as early as July 18 after 57 percent of town voters rejected an initial $47.4 million proposal last week.

Municipal and school administrators have recommended $307,000 in potential reductions – $236,000 in unspecified school budget cuts and $71,000 from the municipal paving budget – which the Town Council will consider when it meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The recommended cuts would reduce the school budget proposal to $47.2 million – $1.3 million, or 2.9 percent, higher than the current budget – and result in an overall property tax rate increase of 3 percent.

“That’s the proposal,” Town Manager Tom Hall said Monday. “It’s likely to change.”

The council is expected to hold a public hearing June 28 on the proposed budget changes and take a final vote July 5 on a new referendum amount, Hall said.

In the meantime, there’s a short community feedback survey on the town’s website,, that asks voters how they voted and why. In the written introduction, School Superintendent Julie Kukenberger said the information will be used “to develop a budget that our community is able to support.”

Under state law, a second referendum must be held no less than 10 days and no more than 45 days after the first referendum, Hall said. The council is expected to consider holding the second referendum on July 25 at the urging of a couple of dozen residents who have called Town Hall requesting the later date, Hall said.

The vote June 13 was 2,408 to 1,822 against a budget that would have increased school spending in the coming year by $1.5 million, or 3.4 percent, and would have absorbed an anticipated $1.4 million reduction in state education aid.

The town clerk’s office reported a 25 percent turnout at the polls, with 4,237 of the town’s 16,848 registered voters casting ballots in the initial budget referendum. Hall said he hopes to get a firmer state subsidy amount before the second referendum.

It was the fifth time in 10 years that town voters rejected the school budget on the first ballot. Opponents used social media, robo calls and lawn signs to campaign against the use of $2.1 million in surplus funds and a 7.4 percent increase in the amount to be raised in property taxes, from $39.8 million to $42.8 million, which included adult education and food service costs. The $47.4 million gross budget total on the June 13 ballot excluded adult ed and food services.

The $47.4 million school proposal was part of an overall $84.5 million operating budget for municipal, school and county services that would have increased overall spending by $2.5 million, or 3 percent, in the fiscal year starting July 1.

Under the initial combined spending plan, the property tax rate would have increased about 56 cents, or 3.49 percent, from $15.92 to $16.48 per $1,000 in assessed property value. The annual tax bill on a $300,000 home would have increased $168, from $4,776 to $4,944.

If the council reduces the combined spending plan by $307,000, as recommended, the overall operating budget would be reduced to $84.2 million, resulting in an overall spending increase of $2.1 million, or 2.6 percent.

The property tax rate would increase about 48 cents, or 3 percent, from $15.92 to $16.40 per $1,000 in assessed property value. The annual tax bill on a $300,000 home would increase $144, from $4,776 to $4,920.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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