BIDDEFORD — City councilors have approved a mil, or tax rate of $20.05 per $1,000 of value, pending the July 14 validation vote of the city’s education budget.

The mil rate figure is up by 7 cents from the current $19.98 rate. However, with the increase in the Homestead Exemption for the fiscal year that began Wednesday, July 1 qualifying residents with homes valued at less than $1.45 million could expect to see a property tax bill decrease with the new tax rate, city officials say.

The City Council approved the $33.6 million general fund municipal budget on June 23. The budget relies on about $11.5 million in a mix of non-property tax revenues that includes a reduced projection of state revenue sharing, other state -related revenues and about $550,000 in the use of operational surplus.

Prior to the vote, Councilor Stephen St. Cyr said the pandemic will have an effect on families, and noted it has impacted his own, with reduced work hours for some family members.

“For me and my family it’s a short-term hit,” said St. Cyr. “And I almost think that is what this budget is designed for… we’ll get through it, and no one has to be concerned for me, but honestly, I don’t think that’s true for most people in Biddeford.”

He said  “plenty of people” are hurting now, and predicted more would be doing so in the future.

“I don’t think the budget takes that into consideration,” St. Cyr said.

While no other councilors spoke on the matter that evening, when it came to the vote to pass the budget, St. Cyr, council President John McCurry and Robert Quattrone dissented.

The council approved the $20.05 tax commitment, with McCurry, Quattrone, St. Cyr and Marc Lessard dissenting.

Given projected economic difficulties statewide and beyond due to the coronavirus, the city, which had begun budget formulations earlier this year, made adjustments, reducing the amount it expects to receive from state revenue sharing because the state isn’t collecting as much money in sales tax. The cuts eliminated proposed new positions, like a communications director, deputy public works director, and an additional engineer, and reduced expenditures for some items. There is money elsewhere in the budget, earmarked for a deputy engineer position that has so far gone unfilled, and some contracted engineering that could at some point be shifted to fund the engineer position, City Manager Jim Bennett said at a May budget committee meeting.

As well, some vacant positions, and some other items, along with proposed raises, are poised to be deferred to later in the fiscal year.

In the latter part of May, the council approved the $39.2 million education budget, which requires a validation vote at the July 14 election.

The taxpayer contribution to the education budget is pegged at $19.2 million, about .80 percent more than in the current year.

New and reworked positions include two new elementary school teachers due to class size increases; three new resiliency coordinators; changing an ed tech position to a math teaching position; a reworked position for a technology/computer repair position; a new special education job coach; and a special education referral coordinator.

Polls will be open at Tiger Gym at Biddeford High School 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 14  for the validation vote on the education budget.

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