SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Town Council and School Board will have a joint budget presentation on March 31, and the Town Council is once again aiming for a mil rate increase no higher than 3 percent.

On Feb. 10, the finance committee discussed budget targets for the first reading of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, with an understanding that restoration due to COVID-19 may be a bigger part of the budget.

Committee members and Councilors John Cloutier, Betsy Gleysteen and Jonathan Anderson also talked about a possibility of the committee having an initial high-end gross target to work on trimming.

“I’m not so worried about setting the target, but I want to know the percentage increase for restoration and what are other needs coming outside of the restoration,” said Anderson.

He said seeing the net budget would give the committee and town a better understanding of what the starting point is and what changes need to be made if the town chooses to prioritize restoration this year.

“I want to know what it takes to get to restoration, which doesn’t mean we’ll do all of it, and what else is needed, which doesn’t mean we’re going to do all of it either, but at least it gives us a was to assess it to say what are the restorative asks versus additional asks,” he said.

Assistant Town Manager Liam Gallagher said the committee is likely to start with a point that is higher than a 3 percent mil rate increase as part of the exercise.

Board of Education member Sarah Leighton, also a member of the board’s finance committee, was present at the meeting and told the committee that the school side would be supportive of the direction that the finance committee is going. She did, however, provide one caution.

“If you’re going to set specific first reading targets, I think it should be net budget, not gross,” she said. “If you set a net budget target with the intention that you may take some things that are over it or you may go under, that sometimes spins up a narrative in town that the school or the town came in way over the goal or we didn’t hit the goal, and it’s not productive.”

Cloutier said, “I will say that at the end of the day, I’m going to be trying to achieve a balance between the municipal and the school side.”

A full budget adoption calendar was released and can be found on the town of Scarborough’s website.

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