On March 27, the town manager and superintendent submitted budget proposals after working for months with town and school staff. Now the budget is in the hands of the Town Council and the School Board to make adjustments. The budget is intended to reflect the values and priorities of the community, so it’s very important we hear from you throughout the process to guide the choices you’ve elected us to make. Roundtables are planned for April 20, 22 and 24. Weekly Finance Committee meetings are on the town calendar and are open to the public. If you have thoughts, questions or recommendations, you can email the Town Council and School Board at towncouncil@scarboroughmaine.org or boe@scarboroughschools.org.


The council established a goal this year to keep the net budget below 5% and the proposal came in at 6.4%. This is the lowest proposal I’ve seen in my four budget cycles on council. In a normal budget year, this proposal would equate to about a 3.64% increase to everyone’s tax bill, virtually the same as the increase last year. As we work through the process to achieve the net budget goal of 5%, that would be about a 2.24% tax increase. As a reference, the four-year average tax impact is about 2.1%. This budget proposal as it stands is aligned with our conservative tradition to keep the budget increase consistent with the long-term average of inflation. I am confident the council will have an easy time getting to our 5% net budget goal, however this is a unique budget year, one where we cannot generalize the impact to taxpayers.

Due to the revaluation taking place, your relative share of taxes could be higher or lower based on your new assessed value. Your assessed value will be set by market forces outside the town’s control to ensure everyone is paying their fair share of taxes. This process is required by state law.

For 1,800 senior households that participated in the state’s property tax freeze program, that benefit is no longer available and these residents will see both the impact of the 2024 (3.77%) and 2025 budget (TBD) investments on their 2025 tax bill. To temper that impact, in the 2025 budget the council increased the local senior tax rebate program by an additional $250 and the income qualification to $60,000 adjusted gross income.

All residents will know their individual tax impact before they vote on the school budget in June. Additionally, at our April 17 meeting, the town assessor will be able to give the council a better sense of the general community impact from the revaluation to further guide our decisions on the budget. The outcome of this meeting may result in the council seeking to go further below the stated goal of “less than 5% net budget,” resulting in good and arguably necessary investment choices being deferred.

This unique situation was top of mind for town and school officials as they worked through their proposals, and will be top of mind as we work through the request to make strategic investment choices for our community. One very unique thing this year is there are several collective bargaining unit negotiations taking place – police, fire, public works, bus drivers, education support professionals, custodians and food service workers. Our biggest investment is in our people who daily answer the call to serve and are proud to provide quality support to our community, quality that was evident in our town-wide community survey results. In customer service and quality questions, Scarborough ranks well above the region and the nation across many of our departments. In this economic environment, many of those employees’ wages are no longer competitive making recruitment and retention a challenge. We are not only competing with higher wages being offered by other towns, but also with the private sector where these same workers can make higher wages with potentially less responsibility and stress. Town and school staff are the backbone of our operations and providing fair and equitable wages is critical to sustain service levels in our community.

Wage adjustments and increased positions at the school are the biggest budget drivers this year. Given the unique circumstances everything will need to be reviewed thoroughly and prioritized accordingly to meet our goal. This is where we need your help. I will certainly have my views and opinions, and in order to best represent you I need to hear from you. There are many opportunities and ways to engage and I look forward to hearing your recommendations before we have our final proposal approved on May 15th!

Scarborough Town Councilor Jon Anderson is chairman of the Finance Committee. The views and opinions expressed in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Town Council.

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