SOUTH PORTLAND — The city council held an initial discussion of the municipal budget for 2021, proposed at $38 million, on April 28.

While Mayor Kate Lewis said that a deeper dive of the budget will take place in late May and at the beginning of June, City Manager Scott Morelli and Superintendent of Schools Ken Kunin presented what the proposal look like for next year.

On the municipal side, Morelli said that the $38 million budget would have a 2.75 percent tax increase. This was revised from the original proposal earlier in March, after the COVID-19 situation became more prevalent in South Portland.

Kunin said that the school board met throughout April to adjust their initial budget proposal, based on the “new reality” that has come from the virus.

According to his presentation, the school’s budget was presented at $53 million, a 2.38 percent change from 2020.

“We think it accomplishes some very important things and does meet the key goals of the school board in considering a spending plan for the 2020 year,” said Kunin.

The total school, municipal, and county budgets, after revision, is $94 million, an overall tax increase of 3.77 percent, said Morelli.

“While we know a little bit more about of what the financial impact is going to be, we don’t know how long or how deep the negative repercussions of this virus on the economy will be, but we do know that it will result in a sign loss of revenue for the city, for at the very least the fiscal year 2021,” Morelli said.

According to the proposal, the total amount of taxes to be raised was listed at $68.5 million, a 2.29 percent increase from 2020. Before revisions, the proposed amount was $69.9 million.

Morelli told the council that the budget had initially been prepared with two objectives in mind. The first objective was to submit a budget with guidance given by the city council, and the second objective was to address the council’s adopted goals for 2020.

“COVID-19 has unfortunately affected our need to meet these objectives, particularly objective two,” Morelli said.

According to the presention, some of the revisions made included cutting new positions in city offices, including the sustainability office, public works and parks and recreation.

According to the presentation, staff anticipate a loss of $2.5 million in revenue, but Morelli and Finance Director Greg L’Heureux said that the numbers are not definite at this time.

There will be a workshop on May 26 regarding the budget, according to the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget schedule.

“I look forward to talking more about this as the months evolve and as we have new information and hopefully positive news to share,” said Lewis.

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