Property tax bills in Gorham would go up about 5% if the municipal and school budgets are approved as proposed.

The tax rate would rise 88 cents. If both budgets pass as presented, the total taxes on a $300,000 property would be $5,496, up from $5,232 under this year’s tax rate of $17.44 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Gorham Superintendent Heather Perry on Wednesday delivered to town councilors the School Committee’s spending plan of just less than $44.6 million, up 4.34% over this year’s budget.

The proposed $18.4 million municipal budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is up $854,548 over this year’s $17.5 million budget.

The School Committee approved the school budget, with an increase of $1,853,688 over this year’s $42,714,455, by a vote of 7-0 last week.

The state subsidy for general purpose aid to Gorham will increase by about $432,000, from $17.9 million to $18.3 million.

The two Gorham boards are expected to hash over the fiscal year 2021-22 spending plan in a workshop May 11.

“This budget represents more than just putting students in front of teachers,” School Committee member Stewart McCallister said in a School Committee Zoom meeting. “It represents what we need.”

School Committee member Anne Schools hopes the community realizes that “this budget is designed for the students, that we need a budget that will ensure quality education and services to the students that they’re used to receiving.”

Excluding the tax impact to fund the municipal government, the school budget is projected to raise the local tax rate to support Gorham education by 59 cents, from $12.62 to $13.21 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, according to estimated figures provided by the School Department.

Taxes on a home with an assessed value of $300,000 would go up $177, from $3,786 to $3,963 to just support education.

“The school committee has done its due diligence to bring a budget they feel meets the current needs of our student population,” Town Council Chairperson Lee Pratt told the American Journal. “The council will now have a joint meeting with the School Committee to review that budget and see what, if any, changes can be made.”

The Town Council cannot dictate any specific cuts but can advise the School Committee what amount it is willing to accept.

Perry said in a blog that budget priorities included prepping for identified and unknown possible impacts of COVID-19, maintaining and strengthening technology infrastructure and maintaining and strengthening curriculum and programming.

“It is important to note that with contractual obligations and increase to health insurance rates projected for the coming year, maintaining the status quo for staffing alone would have increased our FY21 budget by $1.3 million,” Perry wrote.

School Committee Chairperson Darryl Wright, who is a veteran member of the board, said, “This is my 10th budget and it doesn’t get easier.”

The budget does not include federal funds for COVID-19 relief, which can’t be added to local education funds. But Perry said the funds could be used to offset some budget expenditures.

Federal money would help Gorham “to open back up to five days per week instruction this fall with an emphasis on class size reduction and maintenance of required COVID-19 safety protocols,” Perry said.

Federal funds earmarked for schools that were approved in January will provide $777,000 to Gorham schools. School Department administrators also plan to apply for another $1.7 million under the program when the application process opens.

The Town Council will vote on the School Committee budget at 6:30 p.m. on June 1, and a public validation referendum vote is scheduled for June 8.

“It is up to the voters to make the final decision,” Pratt said. “So if you agree or disagree with the upcoming budget please go out and vote.”

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