Ellis Ledoux, Westbrook deputy city clerk for elections administrator, Tuesday, pauses at the polls Tuesday for a photo with election worker Victoria Szatkowski. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Westbrook school officials must come up with a new budget after voters Tuesday shot down a proposed $51.7 million spending plan that carried a 15.7% hike in property taxes. It was the first time since voters have validated school budgets that Westbrook’s was rejected.

The budget failed by 53 votes, 844 to 791. The city had a 10.8% voter turnout, with 1,641 casting ballots from 15,243 registered voters.

The rejected school spending plan was up $4.5 million, or 9.62% from $47.2 million for the current year.

The school portion of the local property tax rate would have risen $1.45 from $9.24 to $10.69 per thousand dollars of valuation, or 15.7%. Taxes on a home assessed at $400,000 would jump up $580 from $3,696 to $4,276 to support education.

Sue Salisbury, Westbrook School Committee chair, said Wednesday that she has been swamped with calls.

“This is the first time since the law went into effect (2008) that the budget has not passed,” Salisbury said. The 2008 law, Title 20-A Section 1486, requires all school budgets to be voted on by citizens.


Salisbury said the board had already been planning for this potential situation.

“We will try to have a Finance Committee and School Committee meeting next week with a new budget proposal. Then it will go to City Council, and then to voters again,” she said.

Superintendent Peter Lancia said Wednesday afternoon that the school department was “very disappointed” with Tuesday’s vote, but “we’ve heard our community.”

“We are looking at our budget to make some adjustments,” Lancia said, and will meet with the School Committee and City Council.

“Any cuts are devastating to our programs because the budget that was developed was needs- based and was targeted to support student growth and achievement,” he said. “But we are moving forward and we will be preparing another proposal.

Acting Mayor and City Council President David Morse said Wednesday that the council “will meet expeditiously for the purpose of sending a revised school budget to voters as soon as possible after the School Committee completes their work.”

“As a concerned parent, taxpayer and mayor, I will be watching the School Committee with great interest as they revise their budget proposal,” Morse said

This story was updated Wednesday afternoon to include comments from the superintendent. 

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