2017-06-08 / Letters

Watchdog group: Vote against school budget

To the editor:

On June 13, Saco voters will have the opportunity make a decision on how much your taxes will go up this year by voting on the school budget. Saco Citizens for Sensible Government members attended all school board and council workshops, meetings, etc. for fiscal year 2018 budget sessions. Consider the following information before voting.

On Feb. 22, the school board originally proposed reductions of $796,315 to the school budget. After comments from individuals and council members during the public session on March 8, the school board added back all the proposed cuts.

The amount voted and recommended by the school board totaled $36,197,875. Due to lower health insurance costs the school budget decreased. This saved $449,613. On May 8, after further discussions, the council directed the school board to reduce the school budget an additional $200,000. It now stands at $35,548,262.

Saco Citizens for Sensible Government recognizes the council can approve a zero increase in the mil rate this year. Taxpayers need to vote down the school budget. Send it back to the school board and council. Ask for an additional reduction of $400,000. If the school board prior to the insurance reduction was able to cut $796,315 in February, then pencils need to be sharpened.

The school board needs to recognize suggestions made by the teachers as cost savings as well as suggestions by council members and the public. Saco Citizens for Sensible Government can provide the list of teachers’ suggestions to anyone if requested.

The second part of the equation is the nondisclosure of revenue by the city administration. This revenue needs to be recognized. After the adoption of the budget last year, an additional $900,000 in revenue was recognized. Again, this would have helped to reduce last year’s mil rate further. Let’s not have a repeat performance.

Councilors voted and approved on May 8 the city and school budget with an increase to the mil rate of 21 cents. The tax rate is now set at $19.63 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The unknown factor is how much the assessed value of your home has increased over the past year. Based on past years’ experience, your tax bill may go up because of how the city assesses property.

There are many moving parts when it comes to determining the mil rate. It takes individuals looking at each of these parts to see how best to provide the services the city and school requires. Moreover, at the same time not to tax property owners out of their homes.

For additional information regarding issues in this letter, please email: sacocitzenssensiblegovernment@gmail.com. Saco Citizens for Sensible Government will gladly provide you with information we have obtained from attending meetings, speaking publicly and asking the right questions.

John Harkins, chairman Saco Citizens for Sensible Government

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