Ward 1 Councilor David Morse, left, and Council President Gary Rairdon wear face coverings at Monday’s meeting, where they gave preliminary approval to the proposed city and school budgets. Chance Viles / American Journal

WESTBROOK— The City Council Monday gave unanimous preliminary approval to the proposed municipal and school budgets that Council President Gary Rairdon said were “fiscally responsible.”

“I compliment our department heads for coming to us with a fiscally responsible budget that they feel they can operate within, and all around I think we’ve done great justice to the citizens,” Rairdon said.

The $29.8 million city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 authorizes the use of city reserve funds to offset expected revenue losses from the coronavirus pandemic and cuts nine positions across city departments. It is $184,000, or 0.61%, less than this year’s municipal budget.

The property tax rate will not increase, remaining at $17.86 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The owner of a $250,000 home will continue to pay $4,465 in taxes.

The council approved sending a $40.8 million school budget out for a validation vote July 14. Also requiring no tax increase, the budget proposed for the next school year is up $400,00, or 0.99%, from this year, with city funds helping reverse tax impacts.

Letters were read at the meeting from two residents speaking out against cutting the emerging technology librarian at the Walker Memorial Library.

“(I am) disappointed to know that at least at this time it calls for cutting (that) position, it’s shortsighted to cut any position especially one that is dedicated to helping residents use technology. The value of remote connection has never been clearer,” Brenda Buchanan said in a letter read by Ward 1 Councilor David Morse.

Mayor Mike Foley said that the position is not as crucial now, since more of the library staff is able to help residents with technology and their computers.

“At a time when that was created, our library staff wasn’t as experienced in advanced technologies,” Foley said.

Foley said the librarian who has been serving in that position will continue to work at the library in a different position and capacity.

“I went through the position line by line to see how this would effect us and see how it fits our needs, and we will be able to handle it,” said Library Director Rosemary Bebris.

A date for final approval of the municipal budget will be set. Residents will vote on the school budget July 14.

Comments are not available on this story.