The longer I live in Scarborough, the more I fall in love with our wonderful community. My family has lived in Scarborough for seven years and chose Scarborough because of its affordability, strong school system, the multiple sandy beaches, the beautiful marsh, proximity to Portland and the relative diversity of the community. We hit the jackpot and I am so grateful that I get to call Scarborough my home and give back as a town douncilor. My objective is to preserve as much as we can of this exceptional town, while enhancing the quality of life for all. It’s not going to be easy, but my hope is to build on the past year’s successes and continue to make forward progress as we overcome inevitable hurdles together as a community.

The Town Council set an ambitious agenda in 2023. You can view our 2023 goals on the “Council Outlook” section of the Town’s website. We will be setting 2024 goals in January as we reflect on 2023 and the results of the Town-wide Community Survey. The survey results was to be discussed in a workshop on Jan. 3 at 6 p.m. This time of year is always highly reflective, so here are some of the highlights in 2023 and opportunities for 2024:

Financial Management: In 2023, we set a goal to have the tax rate as close to $15.85 as possible, with the actual mil rate coming in higher at $15.97. This was in part due to some choices made to further invest in conservation and climate change efforts, as well as rely less on debt to pay for capital needs. The Council also started Quarterly Financial Reviews to track our finances, which I hope we continue to do in 2024. Based on our financial performance, we were able to sustain our debt ratings with Moody’s at Aa3 and AA+/Stable with Standard & Poors, even after being transparent that we will likely need to incur significant debt in the near future to address facilities needs of our schools. The financial health of the town is strong and something we need to sustain in 2024. I am committed to ensuring we keep the tax rate increase to a minimum so we can keep Scarborough affordable, while making appropriate investments to meet the evolving needs of our community.

Housing Choice and Homelessness: One thing I love about Scarborough is the compassion we show our neighbors. I am proud of how the town addressed the unhoused challenge in 2023, particularly as we worked with the Comfort Inn. We invested in an additional full-time employee for a General Assistance administrator to build our Social Services division to provide services and aid to members of our community. We also provided a contribution to GPCOG’s Safe in Maine Program, leveraging fees collected from developers, to build transitional housing for asylum seekers. To help with affordable housing, we updated our rate of growth ordinance to include a pool for deed restricted affordable and workforce housing to incentivize affordable housing options in Scarborough. In November, the Council approved a credit enhancement agreement for the 3iHome Project, the first of its kind to provide affordable housing for individuals with a mobility disability that significantly impacts their activities of daily life. As we go into 2024, my hope is that we continue to make good decisions specific to the challenge of the unhoused and affordable housing in Scarborough. It is a regional issue, and I support Scarborough doing its part in a way that is unique and appropriate to meet our community’s needs.

Residential Growth Management: Growth Management will be the challenge of the decade for Scarborough. The Council made enhancements to the Rate of Growth Ordinance in 2024 to direct growth to our designated growth areas, limit single-family and three-bedroom housing to put less pressure on the school, and create a pathway for more deed restricted affordable and workforce housing. It will take time to see the effects of these changes. Additionally, the town is in the process of updating impact fees to make sure new development pays its fair share toward the impact it has on our infrastructure, traffic, public safety and schools. This will be an 18-month process to make all the updates and will likely carry into 2024 and even 2025. Impact fees require aligned designated capital investments to fund, and our Parks and Facilities Master Plan and upcoming town-wide Transportation Network Study will help inform what those needs are. Impact fees spread the burden of new capital investments, including updates to the schools, so the costs do not fall entirely on existing taxpayers. Additionally, in 2023 the town finally achieved the goal of the commercial tax base exceeding 25%, a goal that was made in 2006. It took time to get there, but the continued economic development generated with new businesses will help to offset the impact of new growth to taxpayers. There is still more work to do to ensure we balance growth and investments with affordability in Scarborough. We are at the beginning of our journey to find this balance and I believe we have the right pieces starting to fall into place and will continue to make adjustments in 2024.

Strategic Capital & Facilities Planning: This year, we swung for the fences and missed with the K-8 Strategic Solution. The solution was intended to address the facility needs at our three K-2 schools and the Middle School. After a lot of reflection, there were many reasons the school failed in November that we will need to learn from as the revised solution is developed. I am so pleased by the outpouring of residents willing to roll up their sleeves and support a refreshed building committee in 2024 to find a path forward. I believe we do have a crisis around the corner with our aging school facilities and if we don’t act as a community soon, we will have real challenges with our schools that will impact everyone. With more public input throughout the process to identify, define and communicate the solution, my hope is the next solution will be the right solution for Scarborough. We also set up an ad hoc committee to better define a Community Center, picking up where the prior committee ended right before COVID. I would love to have a Community Center with a pool in Scarborough, however until there is a clear path for the school, I believe it is prudent that this particular project gets pushed further out than originally planned. Additionally in 2024, I would like to see the town and schools take a step back and partner together to develop a Strategic Capital Investment Plan that considers major capital improvements and investments in the next 10+ years. This will better facilitate long-term planning so we can prioritize our major capital needs and keep Scarborough affordable.


Sustainability, Conservation and Climate Change: This year, we tackled the tip of the iceberg to address conservation and climate change in Scarborough. The Council committed to a 30×30 goal to conserve 30% of our land by 2030. To help with this, we funded an Open Space Plan and plan to seat an Ad Hoc Open Space Committee in 2024, made up of members from our other environmentally focused committees, to help us prioritize land conservation efforts. We continued to use our Land Acquisition Reserve Fund to partner with the Scarborough Land Trust to purchase land for conservation. It’s likely at some point in the next few years we will need to ask voters for more financial support to replenish the fund. However, not all conserved land needs to be acquired by the town. More information will be coming out in 2024 on how residents with land can help us achieve our 30×30 goal. As it relates to climate change, the Council funded a Vulnerability Assessment in 2024 to help us understand the impacts climate change has on our infrastructure so we can prioritize investments to enhance our resiliency. Lastly, this year we held our first Sustainable Scarborough Day which was a huge success, bringing together organizations and businesses to bring greater attention to sustainability efforts in town. I hope this continues to be an annual tradition in our community so everyone continues to learn a bit more about how they can help conserve our planet and protect the Marsh, which is at risk if we don’t act now.

Traffic & Transportation: As previously mentioned, we are embarking on a Transportation Network Study to provide direction and focus for the Town’s future capital spending related to traffic and transportation needs. Traffic and ease of getting around town continues to be a huge concern for many. We are continually making traffic improvements, but many improvements focus on traffic safety rather than traffic flow. One investment intended to improve flow was adding new adaptive traffic signals along Rt. 1. We had great success installing these traffic lights in Dunstan, but reviews so far in Oak Hill have been mixed and need to be assessed further. My personal experience has been that Rt. 1 seems to move faster, but that is at the expense of the feeder streets that now wait and can get backed up. As the adaptive lights learn, hopefully all routes will move a bit more smoothly. Lastly, we continue to get feedback from residents on the need for more traffic calming measures in residential neighborhoods. We are creating a Traffic Calming Policy to help better assess needs and offer appropriate traffic calming measures that improve safety in our residential neighborhoods. This policy will be completed in early 2024 and will be a partnership across multiple town departments and our resident-led Transportation Committee.

Public Engagement & Communications: Lastly and most importantly, this year we continued our Council Corner Live forum to engage residents on key topics in town. Our forum that explored options for short term rentals was one of the biggest hits this year. We also conducted another town-wide survey to gauge resident sentiment on the services provided by the town. Thank you to those who completed the survey This tool will be instrumental in identifying areas for improvement and investment in the future and help the Council set goals for 2024. There is still more work to be done in this area to improve resident engagement and continue to build trust in the town and how decisions are made within our community. If there is anything we can do better in the areas of engagement and communications, please let us know and email us at For me, this will be a top priority in 2024 and in my term as a Councilor.

Phew, if you made it this far thank you. As you can see, we have been busy but there is still work to be done in 2024 to build on the foundation we set in 2023. I would love to hear more directly from you as we work through these and other areas of interest to you in 2024. If you have it as a personal goal in 2024 to be more involved in your community, getting involved in local government activities is a great way to start. You can start by simply emailing the Council, coming to a public meeting scheduled on the first and third Wednesdays at 7 p.m., attending a Council or Citizen Committee Meeting (times posted on the Town Calendar) or simply giving the councilors a call or text. Our direct contact information is available online. I hope to hear from you and see you in 2024!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are mine alone and do not represent the views of the Town Council.

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