2017-08-04 / Front Page

Budget deliberations begin again

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Coming off a second failed budget vote, the town council and board of education will work in the coming week to amend the fiscal 2018 budget to a level voters feel comfortable with.

The council was scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon in a workshop session – after the Leader’s deadline – to determine how to proceed with the budget. The workshop was set to be followed by a special town council meeting in which councilors were expected to validate the July 25 vote, in which the school budget failed by 82 votes, amend the budget and hold a first reading on the new figure.

“The town council chair felt it important to not just relegate it to the finance committee or joint finance committee, but have the entire council have a discussion,” Town Manager Tom Hall said.

“It’s the first time all of us have had a chance to meet to talk about what makes sense,” said town council finance committee chairman Peter Hayes.

The third validation vote is expected to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 22, but the council could decide at the Aug. 2 meeting to push it back to Aug. 29.

Chairman of the school board’s finance committee Jodi Shea said per state law, the process cannot drag much into September. State law dictates that when a school budget validation vote is rejected, town leaders have between 10 and 45 days to bring a new budget to voters, which would mean a vote couldn’t happen after Sept. 8.

Shea said the school board is hoping to meet Aug. 3 to discuss the council’s deliberations the evening before.

Although the council typically meets on Wednesdays, a public hearing and second reading on the budget is set to take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 8 because the Zoning Board of Appeals has the council chamber reserved the following day.

Hall said late last week he is unsure, at this point, how all this will play out and what the budget will look like as a result of the Aug. 8 vote.

“Not unlike last time, no one is sure of how much needs to come from where to get the yes vote,” Hall said Friday, July 28.

The school board, Shea said, is also looking to the council for direction and the council is the group that ultimately sets the amount of money the school budget is allotted.

“Everyone is still waiting to see what happens with timing and where we go from here. With a vote so tight, it is hard to figure out where that is,” Shea said.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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