Divided Calais council adopts school budget

Posted May 30, 2014, at 4:17 p.m.

CALAIS, Maine — A divided City Council adopted a proposed $7 million budget Thursday night for the school system for the next fiscal year. The budget now goes to the voters for approval in the June 10 primary election.

If voters approve the school budget as proposed, City Council would need to cut spending in the municipal budget of about $247,000, which would result in layoffs, or raise taxes, outgoing City Manager Diane Barnes has warned.

City Council considered the school budget during a meeting that lasted about 30 minutes and voted 4-3 to adopt it and place it before the voters. Councilors Billy Howard, Marcia Rogers, Art Mingo and Anne Nixon voted in favor of the proposed school budget; Mayor Marianne Moore and councilors Tom Parks and Alan Dwelley voted against it.

The proposed school budget contains $1.6 million in local funds. Of that amount, $1.4 million is required by the state — an increase of nearly $33,000 — plus an additional $247,000 in local funds. The current school budget includes $1.4 million in local funds, as required by the state, plus an additional $322,000 in local funds.

The proposed budget also is designed in part on a projected $109,000 increase in state funds to $4.2 million.

The school committee originally sought an additional $384,000 in local funds above the amount required by the state, but that figure was trimmed to $247,000.

If the school budget is approved as is, Barnes and Moore have recommended spending cuts in the next municipal budget totaling $243,000. The options offered by Barnes include eliminating an administrative assistant in the police department and a part-time children’s librarian. She also suggested cutting a police detective position, though that officer could be shifted to a vacant patrol position at reduced salary. Other cuts recommended by Barnes include $95,000 in capital spending for the fire department, police and public works. Moore recommended eliminating stipends for councilors — a savings of $9,600.

The school committee made a number of spending cuts earlier as it worked through the budget process.

 

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