SANFORD — The Sanford City Council is expected to act Tuesday on the Sanford Budget Committee’s unanimous recommendation to approved  the $84.3 million combined school and municipal budget. The budget committee’s recommendation is about $374,000 less than the original proposal.

If approved with the recommended cuts, that would result in a projected mil rate increase of 71 cents, to $21.21 from the current $20.50, rather than the 96 cent increase calculated under an earlier budget proposal.

In all, $32.2 million of the $84.3 million budget is to be raised by taxation.

A calculation that does not include Homestead or other exemptions shows that a homeowner with a property valued at $200,000 has a tax bill of $4,100 today, based on the $20.50 mil rate. The tax bill would increase by $142 in the fiscal year that begins on July 1, based on a $21.21 tax rate.

The Sanford City Council will vote on a combined school and municipal budget of $84 million at their meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

The budget panel on Thursday said they’ll also recommend that the City Council examine the possibilities of bringing a major infrastructure bond referendum to the voters in November — primarily designed to fix the city’s deteriorating streets and roadways. The budget panel discussed the merits of  investing a total of about $50 million, perhaps divvied up in single year bonds for the next five years. The bond would also be used to conduct overdue work in the city’s parks, fields and playgrounds.

The school budget cuts endorsed by the budget panel on Thursday include a $58,000 decrease in projected health insurance premium costs that cover some school department employees, a $50,000 reduction in worker’s compensation rates, and the deletion of health insurance benefits in one instance. The school department restored the position of the WSSR-TV coordinator at $57,000, resulting in an overall decrease of $64,000 to the school budget.

Advertisement

The school department remains poised to lose a number of positions as a result of the budget, including seven teaching jobs, some education technician positions and others. Some of the positions cut are vacant, some are held  by personnel  who are retiring and won’t be filled – and about 45 percent are currently filled.

Summer school will be eliminated at Sanford High School under the proposal.

There are four new positions proposed, including an assistant principal and a math interventionist at the junior high/middle school, and an in-school suspension ed tech and a third-shift custodian at Sanford High School and Regional Technical Center.

Budget Committee members asked why another assistant principal was needed at the new middle school.

School personnel said there will be a fluctuation in enrollment at the school due to a year-long, temporary influx from students from other Sanford schools during construction projects — 150 more than they will have in the following year.

Superintendent Matt Nelson pointed out that middle school is perhaps the most challenging age group.

Advertisement

“We feel this is critical,” said Nelson. “We’re asking a lot in the community next year and how we’re moving students around. The administrative team met and everyone advocated for this.”

The current junior high school, which includes grades 7 and 8, has two administrators at present for 690 students. There will be about 1,062 students at the school next year, as some of the elementary school population moves there and to other schools during construction at their facilities. An administrator from Margaret Chase Smith would join the junior/middle school staff for a year and so the new position would make the fourth administrator. The following year, the grade 5 to 8 middle school would have a population of about 909 students and three administrators — the MCS administrator would return to that school.

On the municipal side, proposed cuts made on Thursday by the budget panel include $242,000 in improvements to parks and playgrounds — because it was felt they would be included in the proposed November infrastructure bond referendum. A new police officer position, pegged at $78,321 for salary and benefits, was also cut, with budget committee members reasoning that the police department is already having a tough time filling current vacancies. A $10,000 contribution to the Sanford Springvale Chamber of Commerce was restored.

The budget panel debated recommending deeper cuts but in the end voted unanimously to support the spending plan that results in the estimated 71 cent tax rate increase.

Mayor Tom Cote said he is excited about the possibilities of the proposed road bond.

“I think it’s a really good thing in the community and we need to improve our infrastructure big time,” said Cote.

Advertisement

As to the budget, Cote said the city needs to expand its revenue.

“We need to look at ordinances around new construction and loosen some regulations,”  Cote said. “Probably the fire department and planning (department) won’t like it,  but we need to wake up to some realities here.”

The discussion on the proposed November infrastructure bond will continue. The Sanford School Committee is also contemplating bringing a bond to the voters in November of around $5 million, to accomplish a number of projects, including a new roof at Carl J. Lamb school and partial roofing at the junior high school.

The budget will be presented to the City Council for action on Tuesday, April 2 at 6 p.m., when the council meets on the third floor of City Hall, 919 Main St.

The council vote is the final action on the municipal portion of the budget; voters will get a chance to cast a validation ballot on the school budget June 11.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: