The Falmouth Town Council approved a million school budget Monday, paving the way for voters to have the final say in a June 8 referendum.

The $41,020,986  budget for the 2021-2022 school year is up 3.91% over this school year’s budget. The new budget includes 10% spending increases for both technology and facilities management.

On the municipal side, the town budget of $14,975,221, approved at the April 26 council meeting, is up 8.46% over the current fiscal year budget. Personnel expenses increases, including wages, retirement and health insurance, added $578,161 to the budget.

Finance Director Peter McHugh said the two budgets result in overall town property tax rate increase of 92 cents, or 5.4%, from $17.05 per $1,000 of assessed value this year to $17.97 for the next fiscal year. The owner of a $500,000 home, for example, will pay an additional $460 in taxes next year.

Short-term rental rules

The council on May 24 will take up proposed rules governing short-term rentals, such as Airbnb. The proposed ordinance “is intended to monitor the impact on residential neighborhoods by the operation of short-term rentals within the Town, and to provide a registration program that enables the Town to monitor and track short-term rentals within its borders,” according to its wording.

The proposal requires the registration of any short-term rental, which is defined as less than 30 days, the certification of the owner’s insurance, and the listing of an emergency contact person who can respond to any complaints within an hour. There would also be a hotline set up for residents to call with problems associated with the rentals.

Resident Marilyn Lalumiere said she hoped the ordinance would “keep the integrity of our community.” She expressed concerns about renters’ stays  of less than seven days and about the lack of occupancy limits per home.

Jack Davis, who runs an Airbnb with his wife, said he’s had no problem with his renters over the years and suggested any short-term rental registry could differentiate between owner-occupied properties and those that are not.

Kathleen Duddy said she had issues with parking due to short-term renters, who have also been noisy. “In our neighborhood, you can hear other people’s toilets flush,” she said.

Councilors said they would consider adding an abutter notification when a rental is listed and making the online registry of rentals public.

Vision and Values Project

A series of focus groups is planned in the coming weeks to tackle topics such as residential development, shared community areas and green spaces and governance and collaboration. Information about participating in the focus groups will be available soon on the Vision and Values project website.

The focus groups are part of the town’s Vision and Values Project, which will inform the town’s next comprehensive plan — the document that guides planning and development in town.

This story has been edited to correct the total amount of the school budget and the percentage increase over this year’s school budget.

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