The Westbrook City Council Monday gave final approval to an $87.1 million combined city and school budget with an 8.8% property tax increase.

The vote was 6-1, with Councilor Gary Rairdon opposed.

The schools’ $47.1 million portion of the overall budget is up $3.2 million or 7.4% from this year.

“This is a budget that supports our students,” Superintendent Peter Lancia told the American Journal following the vote.

Rairdon said he would support a modest tax increase, but not 8.8%, which will cause hardship for some residents.

The budget raises the estimated tax rate $1.59 per thousand dollars of valuation from $18.10 to $19.69 for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Taxes on a home assessed at $400,000 will rise to $7,876 from $7,240, a $636 hike.


Council Vice President David Morse said the city and school administrations, City Council and School Committee thought hard about the budget.

“The city and the schools have come together wonderfully with a budget that is going to meet our needs and do the best it can in challenging economic times,” Morse said.

Councilor Victor Chau said he’s never said a negative word about the schools and praised the teachers and school system.

“I want to let the whole world know we have one of the best school systems around,” said Chau, parent of two children. “We have amazing teachers here.”

At last week’s rather heated council meeting, Chau urged voters who were opposed to the school budget to vote it down in the validation referendum June 13. His comments, along with those of Council President Anna Turcotte, who said people don’t move to Westbrook primarily for its schools, angered School Committee Chairperson Suzanne Salisbury. At the meeting, Salisbury said the discussion was frustrating and “disgusting.”

Comments are not available on this story.