Scarborough Town Council members discussed what they wanted to work towards in 2021, agreeing that it would continue to support the town through the pandemic.

SCARBOROUGH — The growth management ordinance, comprehensive plan, and more communication on town finances were among the goals for 2021 On Jan. 16 the Scarborough Town Council discussed on Jan. 16.

Councilors developed a list of goals that are slated to be approved at the Feb. 2 council meeting. The council developed and discussed eight different goals, which state:

  • The overall goal of council is for town finances to be more regularly reported to the full council and general public. Standard format and timing to be determined by finance committee;
  • Strive to maintain no more than a 3 percent increase in the mil rate. Establish specific first reading budget goals for school and town in collaboration with the Board of Education;
  • The ordinance committee will complete the Growth Management Ordinance review process and produce a recommendation for the entire council by June 30;
  • Proposed revisions to town charter will be brought to the voters no later than Nov. 2;
  • Comprehensive plan process to be fully completed by June 30, with an implementation plan to follow, emphasis on public engagement;
  • Support The Downtown Committee’s work in completing its charge and deadline of June 30;
  • No major capital investments over $5 million with the intent to revisit deferred capital projects from 2020, will continue to support the planning process;
  • and continue to support town residents, businesses, school and town staff as we continue to move through the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.

One council goal, carried over from 2020, is striving to maintain no more than 3 percent increase in the mil rate.

Councilor John Cloutier said he was in favor of that goal because while costs go up each year, the town doesn’t reevaluate property each year.

“So your mil rate is the function of how munch you spend or collect from property holders in relation to the value of their property,” he said. “If you hold the value flat, aside from new properties coming on line, you’d expect that rate to go up. If we reevaluated the properties every year, then you’d expect your mil rate to stay the same roughly. Your expenses typically follow the value of your properties.”

Councilor Jonathan Anderson said that in the future, it may be in the council’s interest to include other factors besides the mil rate in comprehensive goals.

The focus of this year is to mainly catch up after the town was impacted by the pandemic, Councilor Betsy Gleysteen said when the council discussed capital investments in 2021.

“The economy is looking OK, but there are still unprecedented times,” she said. “It really is with so much debt in the system. I’m not sure it is the year to look at major capital improvements.”

The ordinance committee will complete the Growth Management Ordinance review process and produce a recommendation for the entire council by June 30, 2021.

Gleysteen said that when speaking to town constituents, growth was an important issue. She believes the council needs to prioritize growth management.

The council also agreed that it wanted better communication between itself and the public, especially when regarding finances.

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