After more ‘slow cutting,’ Bangor School Committee passes a $43.57 million budget

Posted April 10, 2014, at 7:03 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A week after approving a budget, the Bangor School Committee was presented with a slightly less expensive spending plan at Wednesday night’s meeting. The committee voted 5-1 to pass the new budget, saving taxpayers $83,385.

Since the previous budget was approved, superintendent Betsy Webb told the committee that she has been monitoring enrollment closely and was able to remove two teacher positions that she had planned to add to the staff.

The $43.57 million budget that was proposed and passed on Wednesday night represents a 2.23 percent increase over this year’s budget. If adopted, this budget will increase property taxes by 3.8 percent.

School committee member Marc Eastman, who cast the one dissenting vote, expressed concern that this budget would not be able to support rising costs.

“I think this is actually less than the bottom line,” he said. “We have things that require huge amounts of our money that are going up 9 percent and our budget is only going up [2.2] percent.”

Webb told the committee that the school district’s health insurance costs will go up by 9.5 percent next year.

Other committee members who voted for the budget also said they were worried that it was too small.

“This type of slow cutting actually worries me,” said committee member Jay Ye.

“In the next budget cycle, we probably should be asking for slightly more [of an] increase in order to adequately fund our school system,” he said.

Committee member Sarah Smiley agreed and said that next year the district would have to look at investing in improving facilities.

“Next time we will have to look at being able to do some of those facility repairs,” she said.

Webb will hold a meeting with parents to go over the budget at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 15, at the Bangor High School Lecture Hall.

The Bangor School Committee will have a joint workshop with the City Council on April 30 and City Council will hold readings of the budget in May. City residents will vote whether to approve the budget on June 10.

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