The Gorham Town Council Tuesday approved the municipal budget and a reduced school budget Tuesday. From left are Town Council Chairperson Lee Pratt, Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors and Councilors Suzanne Phillips and Ben Hartwell. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The Gorham Town Council slashed nearly $1.6 million from the proposed school budget Tuesday and then passed a combined municipal-school budget of $66.2 million.

The School Committee’s proposed $48 million budget now stands at $46.4 million, an increase of 4.7% over this year’s $44.3 million budget.

Explaining his reasoning, Town Council Chairperson Lee Pratt said he believes a recession is coming.

“I can’t pass it on to people on fixed incomes,” Pratt said of the School Committee’s request, which represented a $3.7 million, or 8.5%, increase.

Each councilor weighed in with their thoughts on how much the school budget should be cut, then collectively settled on $1.6 million.


The board voted 5-1 for the reduced school budget. Councilor Janet Kuech voted against the approval, saying she couldn’t support a school budget cut of more than $300,000. Councilor James Hager was absent.

School Committee member Phil Gagnon said Wednesday it is understandable that the Town Council wants to control costs to taxpayers.

“In future years, it may be necessary to convey budget expectations sooner in the budgeting process, so the School Committee can budget to those expectations,”  Gagnon said.

The school budget goes to town voters for approval next Tuesday, June 14.

School Committee Chairperson Anne Schools told the American Journal Wednesday that after the council slashed the budget, the committee “worked diligently to reduce specific items to meet this requirement.”

“The reductions will have negative impacts, but they have been made in a manner that minimizes these impacts to the best of our ability.” Schools said. “It is now up to the voters of Gorham to determine how we move forward.

Superintendent Heather Perry Wednesday provided a list of 27 cuts to the budget to total $1.6 million.  They include a 6th grade teaching position, a middle school and high school library ed tech position, a K-5 teaching position and a half-time secretary position at Narragansett School.
Perry said there would be no layoffs as result of the budget cuts.
Also on the chopping block were laptops for staff, sidewalk repairs at the middle school and flooring projects.

The revised school budget would raise the portion of property tax rate to pay for local education 2.2%, from $12.63 per $1,000 of assessed property to an estimated $12.90.

The combined budgets would raise the tax rate from $19.40 to an estimated $19.89, according to figures released Wednesday by Gorham Finance Director Sharon LaFlamme. However, that rate will change by September with the completion of the town’s ongoing revaluation of homes.


The Council unanimously approved the $19.8 million municipal budget, an increase of $1.3 million over this year’s budget. The municipal budget includes a $1.4 million Cumberland County tax assessed Gorham.

LaFlamme said Wednesday the portion of the tax rate to support municipal spending would increase from $4.99 to an estimated $5.20 per $1,000 of valuation, a 21-cent increase or 4.2%.


The Gorham tax rate to cover the town’s share of county spending would increase from 78 cents to an estimated 79 cents.

The municipal budget adds a town engineer position, an assistant town planner, a Public Works driver, and creates a deputy fire chief position while eliminating a part time fire inspector.

It’s a “great start on what we want to do for services,” Town Councilor Suzanne Phillips said.

Town Councilor Ronald Shepard said he supports the budget “wholeheartedly,” and Pratt called the budget “friendly.”

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