WESTBROOK — Neither the proposed city budget nor the proposed school budget for next year include tax increases for residents, but the spending plans may mean cuts in programs and services and the elimination of 18 jobs.

The proposed $29.8 million city budget calls for a change in trash disposal companies, authorizes the use of city reserve funds to offset expected revenue losses from the coronavirus pandemic and cuts nine positions across city departments.

Foley

The spending proposal, presented Monday, is $184,000, or 0.61%, less than this year’s municipal budget.

“Given the uncertainty of everyone’s financial well-being, this is not a year for government to ask for more from its taxpayers,” Foley said.

The tax rate will remain at $17.86 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, Foley said.

The budget looks at projected revenue losses of over $2 million from state revenue sharing and road funds as well as the end of other revenues, Foley said.

Positions cut for a total of $448,876 in savings are the city communications manager, an emerging technology librarian, a police secretary, a parking and animal control officer, an administrative assistant, a project funds specialist and two learning assistants and an art instructor for summer camps and extra school programs.

Casella Waste Systems will continue trash collection, but ecomaine will provide disposal and recycling. That switch will save the city $120,000 next year. Each company would have a 10-year contract.

The budget proposes paying off equipment leases with city funds rather than by borrowing.

“The use of available fund balance will eliminate future interest expenses resulting from multi-year financing,” Foley said.

The budget calls for the use of about $674,000 of the general fund to cover the loss of state revenue.

If the state or federal government creates a stimulus package, they may opt not to use these reserve funds, Foley said.

The City Council will tackle the budget June 1.

westbrook school

Lancia

School budget

The School Committee on Monday adopted a $40.8 million budget for the next school year, up $400,00, or 0.99%, from this year, with Committee Chair Noreen Poitras and Ward 1 member Steven Barry voting against it.

It adds free breakfast and lunch for all students at Congin Elementary School, eliminates nine positions and cuts sports programming.

Poitras said that with the city and schools laying off workers the school budget should not be increasing, not even 0.99%.

“I don’t like the cuts we’ve made. I know it’s going to be tough, but unfortunately, we got handed this and our hands are tied,” Poitras said. “I’m scared as to what the state will do. Will it have a shortfall?”

The school department had proposed a 3% budget increase before the pandemic, but was asked by the city to come back with no more than 1.5%, according to School Committee Vice Chairman Sue Salisbury.

The city budget will also use $500,000 of unspent construction bond money to partially fund the annual payment for debts on the renovation of the middle school and the Saccarappa School.

Positions cut in the proposed school budget include two technology specialists (about $170,000), an elementary teacher ($82,000), four one-year contract teachers (about $170,000), a part-time art teacher ($47,805), a director of assessment and intervention ($108,005), and special after school classes (about $15,000).

Varsity hockey ($11,000), varsity diving ($2,491) and junior varsity golf ($1,300) at the high school will be eliminated, along with extra teaching for music courses (about $17,000).

Second teams for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, field hockey, baseball and softball were cut, eliminating seven assistant coach positions at a cost of $23,845.

Teachers agreed to hold off on raises for the next year for a savings of  $736,185, and Superintendent Peter Lancia cut his salary by $7,982.

“The budget pays attention to our kids’ more basic needs. Could there be more things? Yes. We need more social work support, more of the academic intervention support and that’s missing a little,” Lancia said in an interview Friday.

The proposed school budget also has additions this year including the meals at Congin ($43,926), a Saccarappa social worker ($60,000), a middle school guidance counselor ($60,000), middle and high school intervention teachers ($100,000), and an accounting manager in the business department ($90,000).

The school department was due to present its budget to the city council May 21.

Residents will vote on the school budget July 14.

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