Fellow citizens, neighbors and friends,

I thought it might be helpful to delve into some aspects about the budget and taxes. We have faced and will continue to face daunting challenges from the COVID-19 crisis including many municipal and school operational changes. There are ongoing threats to our health and economic security with business closures and cutbacks and record unemployment rates. Other issues are more familiar which we face year after year. They include sources and levels of revenues and how to balance our spending for school and town needs.

As of the June 16, 2020, Town Council Finance Committee meeting, the council is looking at an overall estimated 1.16 percent mil rate increase. The Town Council will have voted on the final budget on June 24. Here are where things stand as of this writing for FY21 as compared to FY20.

• Municipal spending increase of 0.7 percent

• School spending increase of 3.1 percent (not including nutrition and adult learning)

• Net municipal decrease of -1.2 percent after applying non-property tax revenues and contingency fund balance

• Net school increase of +1.5 percent after applying state school share, revenues, and contingency fund balance

• New COVID-19 related expenses of $533,820

• New town borrowing of $4,085,000

• New school borrowing of $2,301,197

For those who want the budget lower, it may be important to know that non-property tax revenue overall will be down due to the COVID crisis and the economic fallout. Exactly how much is unknown at this time, but all municipalities are factoring in revenue reductions which have a large bottom line impact on mil rate. Without expected revenue reductions, we would be looking at a mil rate decrease as of the June 9 budget review.

For those who want the budget higher, it may be important to know the median tax increase due to the town wide revaluation was over 11 percent for Scarborough home owners in 2019 and more than 60 percent of Scarborough residents saw their taxes increase by at least 10 percent. The reval tax increases largely fell on property values at the lower end of the range, and businesses were also affected greatly.

It’s a very tricky business for us to decide as a town what our priorities should be and what our true essentials are in terms of services. We have strong schools, beautiful world-class natural resources, and a character of our neighborhoods and people which values both tradition and uniqueness. We are home to folks who have been here for generations and who may be new to both our country and town. We are an economically diverse community.

We receive comments and questions from all corners of the town and political persuasions. Emotions run high and we often hear strong opinions voiced in very difficult discussions. We face challenging issues and choices which cannot be reconciled or solved easily. This is no one person’s fault or responsibility to resolve alone. Yet we must somehow work together to solve them. I assure you that we are doing our best during the budget process to listen carefully to you, and to consider fully the needs of all of our citizens and to represent your interests fairly as a whole.

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