Scarborough residents took to the polls to vote on the school department’s proposed $55.7 million 2021-2022 budget at the town’s polling station at Scarborough High School Tuesday. Voters passed the budget 1,106 to 476. Sean Murphy / The Forecaster

Public participation in the Scarborough budget process ended Tuesday as quietly as it began, with 8% of registered voters choosing to approve the school department’s $55.7 million 2021-2022 budget.

Voters cast 1,106 votes in favor, 476 votes against and three blanks June 15, according to Town Clerk Tody Justice.

The combined school and municipal budget was initially proposed at $77.1 million, but officials cut $3.4 million to meet the council’s tax rate increase cap of 3%. The town council officially passed the combined $74.5 million budget May 26, representing a 2.78% increase in the tax rate. For the owner of a $300,000 home, according to town documents, the tax bill will go up $123.

Tuesday’s vote cemented the school department portion. Officials have said that Gov. Janet Mills’ proposed state budget, if passed, will lead to additional state educational subsidies that could push the tax rate increase as low as 2.08%.

In a community that had become known in recent years for a contentious school budget process culminating in angry voters rejecting the budget, the process this year has been remarkably quiet, with referendum day at the town’s polling station at Scarborough High School passing uneventfully.

“It’s been a slow day,” Bill Penley, the poll’s warden, said early Tuesday afternoon.

For a five-year stretch, the Scarborough school budget had a history of being defeated at the first pass at the polls. Approval took two referendums in 2012, three votes in 2013 and two in 2014. The budget was rejected again in 2015, and again in 2017.

Scarborough narrowly broke the streak in 2018, when the budget passed by 98 votes. In 2019, voters passed the budget 1,814 to 644, after officials approved a proposed $56 million school budget without major controversy for the first time in recent history. In 2020, voters also approved the budget by a healthy margin, voting 4,530 to 2,375 in favor.

Comments are not available on this story.