Westbrook’s proposed municipal budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is $35.7 million, up $2.7 million from the current $32.9 million. Combined with the Cumberland County tax assessment of the city and the proposed school spending plan, property taxes would rise 11.4%.

“The proposed budget must respond to the challenges of drastic market inflation for goods and services, reduced revenue sharing from the state and a decline in several of our previously dependable revenue sources – in this Westbrook is not unique,” acting Mayor David Morse said in his budget address to the City Council on Monday. “All Maine communities are facing similar challenges.”

“Not only has the cost of providing basic services become more expensive, but the financial challenges confronted by our community members limit their ability to absorb any significant tax increase,” Morse said in reference to the city government side of the budget.

The City Council did not discuss the budget Monday. Its Finance Committee will review the spending plan at meetings April 8, 9 and 22 before the board’s preliminary vote April 29. A final vote is scheduled for May 6.

The Westbrook School Committee was expected to give final approval to its proposed $51.7 million school spending plan Wednesday after the American Journal’s deadline.

According to the city, the proposed municipal budget would raise the tax rate amount to support city government 35 cents, or up 7.1% from $4.92 to $5.27 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. The proposed school budget would hike the tax rate to support education $1.50, up 16.2% from $9.24 per thousand dollars of valuation to $10.74.


The combined budget proposals result in a tax rate of $18.59, up $1.91 from $16.68 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation, representing an 11.4% jump. For a home valued at $400,000, taxes would rise $764 for the year from $6,672 to $7,436.

Increases of $1.6 million in the city’s side of the budget include $432,988 for general assistance; $430,988 to cover union labor negotiations; $256,743 for health insurance; $226,112 in expenses for the new downtown parking garage; $114,120 for property insurance; $97,594 in county taxes; and $94,970 for Metro bus services, according to City Administrator Jerre Bryant.

The state would reimburse the city 70% of general assistance benefits. “Under state law, we are obligated to respond and provide support to any eligible applicant who seeks general assistance,” Bryant said.

Bryant also said the parking garage that is nearing completion is funded by an infrastructure TIF and does not impact the tax increase.

The largest city expense is labor wages and benefits costs at $21.6 million, representing 60.3% of the budget.

On the income side, Bryant said revenue is down $840,000. He cited state revenue sharing having dropped $439,773 from $3.3 million to $2.9 million and motor vehicle excise taxes are expected to be down $400,000.

Morse picked up the reins of the city when former Mayor Michael Foley resigned in February. “The budget development process was underway when I stepped into the role of acting mayor,” Morse said.

Bryant said, “Mr. Mayor, your first budget is a very challenging one. However, we’ll get through it.”

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