Scarborough’s second attempt to pass a new school budget failed Tuesday as hundreds of voters turned out to spurn a scaled-back spending proposal.

Final results of the school budget validation referendum posted late Tuesday night by Town Clerk Tody Justice showed that 1,930 people voted against the $47.2 million spending package while 1,847 people voted for it. The budget was about $236,000 lower than the $47.4 million proposal townspeople rejected in June.

“The process repeats until there is an approved budget,” Town Manager Thomas Hall said in an email.

Justice said that a steady stream of voters had come through the Town Hall polling place on Tuesday. Justice said voting was heavy in the days leading up to the referendum as well, with more than 1,600 absentee ballots cast.

A total of 3,780 votes were cast Tuesday, compared to the 4,237 votes that were cast June 13 on the first school referendum question.

Justice said those are significant numbers for a ballot with just one question on it and one that was presented to voters during the peak of summer vacations.

Justice said a third vote on the budget will be held on Aug. 22 or Aug. 29. The Town Council will schedule the date of that vote.

The revised $47.2 million school budget proposal presented to voters on Tuesday was $1.3 million, or 2.9 percent higher, than the fiscal 2016-2017 budget and would have resulted in overall property tax rate increase of about 3 percent.

Even with the reductions that were made by the town, the majority of voters were still not buying into the proposed spending package.

“Our taxes are already high enough,” said Judy Farr, who voted against the school budget. “We can’t keep throwing money at it.”

Farr and her husband, Thomas, are retired and say it’s tough with the cost of living being so high to get by on a fixed income. They’ve lived in Scarborough for 45 years. The Farrs’ children went through the Scarborough school system and she served as president of the school band booster club.

“We’re retired now and we only have so much money to spare,” Thomas Farr said.

But for Charlotte Elkhatib, the choice was a simple one. Her son, Malik, is a sixth-grade student at Scarborough’s middle school, and she voted to support the school budget.

Elkhatib said she understands why older, retired residents with no ties to the school system may oppose the spending proposal, but she believes that providing the school department with the resources it needs to give children a quality education should be a high priority for everyone who lives in the town.

“It’s still not enough,” Elkhatib said of the reduced budget proposal. “Too much has already been taken away.”


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