Brunswick Town Councilors meet for a virtual budget public hearing on April 20. Screenshot

Brunswick’s proposed tax rate increase for 2021-2022 has decreased from 6.3% to 5.4%, due, in part, to reductions in school spending.

The town council Tuesday unanimously voted to forgive a $639,000 advance for construction of the Brunswick High School track. The allocation will come out of the general fund and result in a roughly $93,000 decrease from the school’s overall budget.

Brunswick School Department Superintendent Phil Potenziano also reported an additional $243,000 reduction due to the fact that their health insurance estimate was lower than expected.

This leaves the municipal tax impact at a rate of 1.47%, the school tax impact at 4.03% and the county tax impact at a .1% reduction. This also translates to a mil rate of $21.47 per $1,000 of property value, meaning the tax bill for a $200,000 home would be $4,294 — up about $220 from last year.

Factoring this in, the town’s total proposed expenditure budget is now just under $75 million.

Three residents voiced different concerns regarding the budget Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of folks going through some difficult times,” resident Chris Teel told the council. “We’ve paid for schools, we’ve paid for police stations, we’ve paid for a fire station.”

Teel requested that the council stops with increased expenditures and freeze the budget. “I’m tired as a taxpayer,” he added.

Conversely, resident Sarah Brayman, who is also a member of the library board, asked that the council reinstate the full requested amount for the Curtis Memorial Library, noting that the current proposal cut the requested budget by $25,000.

“I will point out that the library was flat funded last year,” Brayman said. “I do think the library is such a key part of our social infrastructure in town.”

Resident Liliana Reitman called in regarding the breakdown of the budget. “I’m concerned about the discrepancy between who we’re serving in the entire community of Brunswick,” Reitman said, noting that a majority of the budget is for the school.

The June 8 school budget referendum will take place at Coffin School, the council decided in a 7-1 vote. Councilor David Watson was the lone dissenting vote.

According to Potenziano’s presentation, the main focus areas for the school budget include special education, mental health and wellness, technology and infrastructure capital projects.

Earlier this month Potenziano told The Times Record that the one of the biggest drivers of the school’s budget was to make up for a $870,000 reduction in General Purpose Aid from the state.

For the municipal budget, major drivers include include personnel, paving, road and sidewalk rehabilitation, capital reserves and fire hydrants.

Going forward, the council is scheduled to give budget guidance on April 29 workshop and budget adoption is scheduled for May 13.

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