SCARBOROUGH, Maine — School Department pension obligations will be funded and the town tax burden reduced after voters Tuesday overwhelmingly approved amendments to the fiscal year 2014 education budget.
The third school budget referendum this year asked voters to approve spending changes after the School Department learned it will receive $788,000 more than anticipated in Maine Department of Education general purpose aid.
The extra funding came after the June 11 referendum where voters approved the $38.9 million fiscal year 2014 budget by a 1,490 to 1,332 vote. The first budget, which was $54,000 higher, was rejected in a May 14 referendum.
Tuesday’s referendum passed, 999-472. The final budget amount for the current year is $39.47 million, with $4.2 million coming from state aid.
Tuesday’s vote also approved allocating $520,000 of the increased aid to fund staff pension fund contributions previously paid for by the state. The remainder of the aid, about $268,000, will be used to reduce the property tax commitment.
The property tax burden will actually be reduced by $291,000, since Town Councilors on July 31 approved a municipal budget amendment boosting anticipated excise tax revenues by $350,000, to $4.2 million.
The passage of the state biennial budget that brought the school aid windfall also meant a $326,000 reduction in municipal revenue sharing of state income and sales taxes.
The allocation of $291,000 to reduce the property tax commitment is expected to lower the anticipated tax rate from $14.88 per $1,000 of assessed value to $14.80. The tax rate increase would then be $1, or about 7 percent.
If the annual valuation of town properties yields an increase of more than the $15 million used to draft the combined school and municipal budgets, the tax rate could drop below the expected $14.80.