The Scarborough Town Council adopted the Fiscal Year 2023 municipal budget at their May 18 council meeting. From the proposed budget first presented on March 31 to the adopted budget, there were $1.397 million in adjustments that produce an estimated final mil rate increase of less than 3 percent.

The budget process included five thorough finance committee meetings to review department budgets. Each department presented their budget and capital requests, followed by committee discussion for clarification and potential adjustments. This process led to a few cost-saving adjustments: A town revaluation that was planned for 2023 will be delayed to 2024. Additionally, hiring will be deferred until later in the year for four (4) new Fire and two (2) new Police positions. This comes in part because of the challenges of the current labor market and incorporating time for new staff onboarding.

The school budget had some budget adjustments as well. After the School Board’s first reading on March 17, school leaders faced an unexpected budget increase of over $130,000 needed to meet the actual cost of health insurance and audit services received in April.  Despite this challenge, the school leadership team was able to make offsetting reductions in other areas, including leaving one teacher position unfilled (vacant due to retirement), reducing cost estimates for Worker’s Comp and dental insurance, and using remaining COVID-related federal grant funds to remove some projected costs from the operating budget.  As a result of this work, the school budget approved by the Council on May 18 achieved a net decrease of $333,337 in expenditures.

Responsive to feedback provided by students, parents and staff, the school budget adds resources for the 2022-23 school year in counseling and academic support to address the learning recovery and social-emotional needs of students in the wake of the pandemic, and uses grant funding to preserve some of the short-term supplemental staff and programs made available in FY22. The school budget will be voted on in a referendum election on Tuesday, June 14.

Scarborough Town Council hosted four budget roundtable discussions with the School Board. These gave residents the opportunity to share feedback and ask questions, and were available to attend both in person and virtually.

“I offer this proposed budget in response to the current needs of the community with a specific focus on key investments,” said Tom Hall, town manager, of the initial proposed budget. Last Fall 2021, the Town conducted a community wide survey to assess the overall satisfaction with development and municipal services, and to provide a sense of direction on priorities that Town leadership should focus on in the years ahead. Town leadership is using the response data as a guide to structure next steps on issues like infrastructure needs, traffic improvements, visibility of law enforcement, and capital investments that will benefit the community.

Through the budget review process and adjustments, there were no eliminations to department capital budget requests. “I am pleased to report that all budget-related items which address community concerns are retained,” said Hall. These include more immediate improvements, like a new machine for improved sidewalk maintenance, added pedestrian improvements, and increased police visibility. It also includes the start or continuation of longer term processes, such as a Townwide Transportation Network Study to identify existing and future demands on our infrastructure, an evaluation of the Route 1 marsh crossing, and design work on a future Community Center.

The budget process also stayed aligned with the budget goals identified by the Town Council at the start of the year. They intended for a mil rate increase of no more than 3 percent (standard with previous years). It will stay below this threshold and potentially will lower when the total Town valuation calculation is complete. The budget also meets their goals of a less than 5 percent gross budget increase and less than 15 percent debt service as a percentage of the operating budget. Lastly, their goal toward continued fiscal health was to optimize the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts as a source of revenue for the Town. The sheltered value is allocated to designated project areas to enhance the community’s economic development. This year, Scarborough’s TIF districts are starting to produce and support various operating and capital expenses.

All budget materials are available to review on the Budget Portal accessible from the Town of Scarborough website homepage, Public meetings can be viewed on the Town’s public meeting YouTube channel. Sign up for twice monthly email newsletters for the latest updates.

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