SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Town Council has given town and school officials another month to further trim the 2021 school and municipal budgets – which together add up to $95.7 million – with a goal of holding any tax rate increase to 2%.

According to materials presented on April 8, the school’s proposed net budget to be raised by taxes stands at just under $50 million, an increase of $2.5 million, or 5.2%, over the 2020 budget. On the municipal side, the net budget is $18.7 million, an increase of just under $400,000, or 2.1% over the 2020 budget. When adding in county and capital expense changes, the total increase, according to Town Manager Tom Hall, stands at 5.8%. However, Hall noted that valuation projections for 2021 might adjust that increase down by as much as 0.38%. Given a current tax rate of $14.70, the 5.8% increase adds up to 85 cents, or $212.50 for the owner of a $250,000 home.

Prince declined to discuss the budget with The Forecaster directly this week. He referred to past presentations he made to the school board that cited increasing enrollment, crowded schools and aging facilities as driving the increase, but did not go into further detail.

Council Chairman Paul Johnson said “the economic uncertainty” of the coronavirus led to the council’s decision to keep tweaking the numbers until the council’s May 6 meeting, citing a need to cut the net increase for the combined budget to 2%.

Johnson said once the council officially accepts the first reading, the town charter mandates that the budget be finalized in 60 days, so the council tabled its reading to delay the start of that 60-day period.

Hall told The Forecaster this week that he and Prince remain committed to meeting the council’s goal in time for the May meeting.

“We’re just trying to drag our feet,” Johnson said.

“Both he and I are trying to use that time wisely,” Hall said.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

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