The voting station at Scarborough High School. Sean Murphy / For The Forecaster

CUMBERLAND COUNTY — Voters in Scarborough, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth voted to pass their respective school budgets, with Scarborough residents voting nearly 2-to-1 in favor.

Also on Tuesday night, State Rep. Anne Carney and State Sen. Rebecca Millett both took primary wins, and voters in all three towns passed both statewide referendum questions.

In Scarborough, voters passed the town’s $53.3 million proposed 2021 school budget by a vote of 4,530 to 2,375. The combined school/municipal budget impact to the tax rate will be a 1.24% increase, equal to 18 cents, or $45 for the owner of a $250,000 home.

Voters at the booths in Cape Elizabeth. Sean Murphy / For The Forecaster

For several years, the Scarborough school budget had a history of being defeated at the first pass at the polls. Approval took two referendums in 2012, three votes in 2013 and two in 2014. The budget was rejected again in 2015, and again in 2017.

More recently, the budget has now easily passed for the second year in a row. In 2018, voters narrowly approved the budget by 98 votes. In 2019, voters passed the budget by a vote of 1,814 to 644, after officials approved a proposed $56 million school budget without major controversy for the first time in recent history.

Leading up to this year’s election, local taxpayer watchdog group Scarborough Maine Activists for Reasonable Taxes (SMARTaxes), urged residents to vote down the proposal, but their plea to not settle for anything less than a 0% tax increase apparently fell on deaf ears.

“The school community is very pleased with the budget passing,” said School Superintendent Sandy Prince. “Both the school and town have worked intentionally to meet the most critical needs of our school system. With the challenges we are faced with the COVID-19 it is vital that we have the resources and staff to ensure that we educate all students and meet our vision and mission.”

In Cape Elizabeth, the $26.3 million budget passed 2,679 to 881, a 4.7% increase over 2020. The total combined net school and municipal impact to the tax rate will be a 0.9% increase. That adds up to 18 cents, or a $45 increase for the owner of a $250,000 home.

Town Clerk Debra Lane said voters were observing social distancing guidelines and requests from the town to wear masks.

“I think that people are used to it from going shopping, to the bank, etc.,” she said.

Lane estimated a voter turnout of 44%, with approximately 3,600 voters, 2,948 voting absentee. Lane said the town hired extra people temporarily to help process absentee ballots on election night. As a result, she said, there were no significant delays in producing results.

In South Portland, 6,008 voters said “yes” to the $53 million school budget, while 798 voters voted “no.” The combined municipal/school budget will have a net impact of 3.78% on the tax rate, an increase of 72 cents, or $180 for the owner of a $250,000 home. The school portion accounts for 55 cents of that increase.

Town Clerk Emily Scully said voter turnout was approximately 33%, or 6,853 voters.

“For this type of election, it would be on the higher end,” she said.

A resident casts a ballot in South Portland. Sean Murphy / For The Forecaster

Of those, 5,172 voted absentee. To handle the workload, Scully said she got permission from the Maine Secretary of State’s Office to begin tallying early, on Friday, Saturday and Monday, so workers wouldn’t be overloaded on Tuesday.

“We were able to keep on top of that throughout the day,” she said.

As to social distancing, Scully said wardens did not report any problems, and during her visits to the polls, voters were complying with requests to maintain distance and wear masks.

“I witnessed everyone who came in wearing a mask,” she said.

Carney, Millet wins dem noms

Carney, of Cape Elizabeth, won the Democratic nomination for the District 29 State Senate seat easily in all three towns, with 392 votes in Scarborough, 2,177 votes in Cape Elizabeth, and 2,362 votes in South Portland. Sari Greene, of South Portland, came in second with 163 votes in Scarborough, 378 votes in Cape Elizabeth, and 1,996 votes in Scarborough. Eben Rose, a resident of South Portland came in third with 57 votes in Scarborough, 184 votes in Cape Elizabeth, and 857 votes in South Portland.

In Cape Elizabeth, Millet beat Kimberly Monaghan for the Democratic nomination to the District 30 House seat, by a vote of 1,883 to 706. District 30 covers part of Cape Elizabeth.

Both referendum questions were approved statewide and also overwhelmingly passed locally. Residents were asked to approve a $15 million bond issue, with a $30 million match, to improve internet access. The second question asked voters to approve a $105 million bond issue, with a $275 million match, for various transportation projects.

In Cape Elizabeth, the count was 3,235 to 383 on the first question, and 3,276 to 358 on the second. In South Portland, the count was 5,755 to 989 for the first question and 5,949 to 832, and in Scarborough the final count was 5,058 to 1,807 for the first question, and 5,350 to 1,553 (96 blank) for the second.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

Email: [email protected]

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