GORHAM — The Town Council at its regular meeting on June 4 will vote on both the town and school budgets for fiscal year 2020, which begins July 1.

Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak’s proposed budget is $15.5 million, up $683,869, or 4.6% from this year. The proposed budget is expected to raise the tax rate by 9 cents per $1,000 of property valuation.

The School Committee’s budget passed in April calls for a $41 million spending plan, up $2.1 million, representing a hike of 5.31%. It would likely increase the town tax rate 79 cents. The School Committee OKed the budget 6-1, with Bill Benson opposed.

Benson said an increase greater than 5 %  in the operating budget is not a “sustainable trajectory.” Benson worried about meeting future needs, “if we continue to grow the operational budget at this rate.”

The Town Council has the clout to cut the school request but cannot dictate to the School Committee what or where to cut.

The Town Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the municipal center, 75 South St.

“I’m not expecting a big turnout next week, especially since there is not a list of what will be cut if we reduce the budget,” Benjamin Hartwell, Town Council chairman, said Tuesday in an email.

Ultimately, the town’s voters will decide at the polls on Tuesday, June 11, in a validation referendum on whether to OK the school budget as approved by the council.

Another referendum question will ask residents whether they wish to continue the school budget validation process for another three years.

In a separate referendum, the School Department, with eyes on expanding enrollment, is seeking authorization to borrow and spend up to $2.8 million for modular classrooms, cafeteria space and infrastructure at Narragansett Elementary school. Interest at an estimated 2.36% on a 10-year bond would tally up to $364,000. The total amount of principal and interest would equal nearly $3.2 million.

Superintendent Heather Perry will conduct a public forum with a “specific focus” on the budget 6-8 p.m. Monday, June 3, at Baxter Memorial Library, 71 South St.,

In two other settings, Perry will answer budget questions in a “Dunk and Discuss” 7-8 a.m. Thursday, June 5, at Aroma Joes, 109 Main St., in Gorham and another at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at North Gorham Public Library, 2 Standish Neck Road.

The proposed school budget does not include an expansion/renovation project at Gorham High School. The town’s municipal election of town councilors and School Committee members comes in November.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 780-9089 or email [email protected] 

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