The Scarborough Town Council Wednesday passed a $76.8 million combined municipal and school budget, a 5.5% increase over this year’s budget.

About $1.4 million was cut from the initial $78.2 million budget proposal, resulting in a 3% property tax rate increase rather than 4.9%. With the 45-cent rate increase to $15.47 per $1,000 of assessed value, the owner of a $500,000 home in Scarborough will pay $7,735 in property taxes, a $225 increase from this year.

“We have a healthy budget here that’s been trimmed by the finance committee,” Council Chairperson John Cloutier said.

Slight reductions were made throughout the combined budget, such as just under $1,700 shaved off wages and benefits at Scarborough Economic Development Corp., and no one department took a major hit.

 The $21.6 million municipal portion of the budget includes roughly $500,000 in public safety investments, while an additional $695,000 is being put into updating the town’s transportation study, a sidewalk snow removal machine, a Black Point Road paving project, and sidewalk rehabilitation.

“I think that we have a really transparent and clear process now by which we review each department, and they answered every question we could come up with,” Councilor April Sither, chairperson of the finance committee, said. “They really supported us as a finance committee.”

The school budget of $51.9 million is a $2.2 million increase over this year. Personnel costs account for roughly 80% of the budget, according to Superintendent Geoffrey Bruno. The new budget reflects a roughly $360,000 increase in health insurance costs and $300,000 increase in energy and fuel costs. Another $250,000 is allocated for four new positions – two social workers and two educational technicians.

The school budget will be put to a vote June 14, when residents will also elect one town councilor and choose between Drew Gattine and Jean-Marie Caterina in the Democratic primary for the House District 126 seat.

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