2017-05-19 / Letters

Reasons to support Scarborough’s budget

To the editor:

I will be voting yes on June 13 in favor of our school budget. Scarborough’s elected officials and administrators have been putting in long hours to present a reasonable budget, on the municipal side and school system. It is not their goal to raise our property taxes. They do, however, have the task of keeping up all of the services as the town continues to grow. If current service levels are maintained, the cost still increases. For instance, health benefits of municipal employees are going up 15 percent in one year. Also, what happens if there are no new investments? Eventually things deteriorate.

A lot of numbers and percentages are being thrown out there. Bottom line is that this budget has a property tax increase of approximately 3.5 percent. The red flags for me come from the state of Maine. We have to vote on a budget under an assumption of what the state contribution will be. Shouldn’t a state budget be passed before towns go to the polls? Currently our school system is slated to receive $2.1 million, $1.4 million less than last year, and 70 percent less than 2009 levels. I get it, we are fortunate here in Scarborough, and we are, no doubt. The state formula relies heavily on the property value of a town. Our property values continue to climb, this is a very desirable place to live. Maybe the income of residents should have some weight. How does a retired 40 year resident in a modest home keep up? Let’s not forget the state cuts on the municipal side. The law is 5 percent back to towns, Scarborough is at 3 percent from the state. Budgets can be cut some, costs continue to rise, but at what point do services suffer? The burden falls on the taxpayer. Of course, the state should spend responsibly, but these dramatic cuts to public education and shifting the tax burden to property owners seems irresponsible to me. I have no party affiliation, so I have to ask my legislatures, where is the compromise?

Our school system, police, fire, rescue, public works and library all do an amazing job as we continue to grow and I urge residents to support them. The town manager, superintendent, town council and school board are balancing revenues with state reductions, increased costs and needs. I appreciate their time and service to Scarborough. One Town One Budget.

Go Storm.

Paul Stratis
Scarborough

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