Public hearing on Brunswick budgets Monday – Press Herald

BRUNSWICK — On Monday, residents can chime in on the Brunswick municipal and school budgets during a public hearing. 

Faced with a reduction of nearly $800,000 in anticipated revenue and after making over $1 million in cuts,  town officials are proposing a “flat” municipal budget that keeps the tax impact at zero. The school board is also expected to present a budget that, outside of the mandatory increase surrounding payments for the Kate Furbish Elementary School, would have no tax impact. 

Despite two flat budgets, residents will still face a 3.4% tax increase with the addition of Kate Furbish debt service and the county tax. This will increase the tax rate, currently $19.72 per $1,000 of valuation, to $20.40, meaning the tax bill for a $200,000 home would increase about $136 to $4,080. 

The town’s proposed budget keeps the tax impact at 0% but cuts funding to organizations like the Curtis Memorial Library ($50,000), the Brunswick Downtown Association ($10,000) and People Plus ($10,000) in the process. 

Paving and road rehabilitation, previously expected to increase by at least $100,000, will stay the same at about $1.1 million— nearly $800,000 short of the recommended funding level. 

The budget includes the potential for one layoff, but which position that may be, how much money it could save and whether it will happen are still up in the air, according to finance director Julia Henze, so the budget does not include a set number. 

The police department is down one or two officers this year, and if the budget is approved, will remain so, saving about $60,000 for each officer.  

A property tax relief program for seniors, started last year, is also slated to be reduced by about $35,000, leaving $39,000 left in the fund.

Officials have allocated $150,000 from the fund balance to help offset operational expenses. 

The school department, most recently presenting a tax increase of about 2% without the Kate Furbish costs, will have to cut over $930,000. 

According to Radio Midcoast WCME, early suggestions for cost savings include eliminating the high school’s Freshman Academy, which is an alternative learning program for designated freshmen. The station reported that cuts are also proposed to the food service, technology and transportation budgets, but that the proposal does protect jobs. 

Any proposed cuts will not be finalized until they are presented to the full school board on June 10, so the suggested reductions will not be included in the figures for Monday’s hearing. 

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

The governor’s rules surrounding public gatherings will loosen on Monday, allowing up to 50 people to gather at a time. Public attendance at the hearing is permitted, and most councilors will attend the meeting remotely to allow more people to attend in-person, but residents are also encouraged to call in so as to ensure proper social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

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