In the know: Scarborough City Council passes fiscal year 2023 city budget
Scarborough City Council passed the city’s fiscal year 2023 budget at its May 18 meeting. From the proposed budget first presented on March 31 to the enacted budget, there were $1.397 million in adjustments that produced an estimated final mil rate increase of less than 3%.
The budget process included five in-depth finance committee meetings to review departmental budgets. Each department presented their budget and capital requests, followed by committee discussion for clarifications and potential adjustments. This process has led to some adjustments to reduce costs: a reassessment of the city that was scheduled for 2023 will be postponed to 2024. In addition, the hiring will be postponed until later in the year for four (4) new firefighters and two (2) new police officers. posts. This is in part due to the challenges of the current labor market and the onboarding time required to onboard new staff.
The school budget has also undergone some budgetary adjustments. After the school board’s first reading on March 17, principals faced an unexpected budget increase of more than $130,000 needed to cover the true cost of health insurance and auditing services received in april. Despite this challenge, the school’s management team was able to make compensatory cuts in other areas, including leaving one teaching position unfilled (vacant due to retirement), reducing estimates of costs for workers’ compensation and dental insurance, and using remaining federal COVID-related grant funds to remove some projected costs from the operating budget. As a result of this work, the school budget approved by the Board on May 18 resulted in a net decrease in expenses of $333,337.
In response to feedback provided by students, parents and staff, the school budget adds resources for the 2022-23 school year for counseling and academic support to respond to the resumption of learning and students’ socio-emotional needs in the wake of the pandemic, and is using grant funding to preserve some of the short-term additional staff and programs made available in FY22. The school’s budget will be voted in a referendum election on Tuesday, June 14.
Scarborough City Council held four budget roundtables with the school board. These gave residents the opportunity to share feedback and ask questions, and were available to attend in person and virtually.
“I am offering this proposed budget in response to current community needs with a particular focus on key investments,” City Manager Tom Hall said of the initial proposed budget. In the fall of 2021, the City conducted a community-wide survey to gauge overall satisfaction with City development and services, and to provide direction on the priorities on which City leaders should focus on in the years to come. City management is using the response data as a guide to structure next steps on issues such as infrastructure needs, traffic improvements, law enforcement visibility, and capital investments that will benefit the city. the community.
As part of the budget review and adjustment process, there was no elimination of departmental capital budget requests. “I’m happy to report that all budget-related items that address community concerns are being retained,” Hall said. These include more immediate improvements, such as a new machine for better sidewalk maintenance, additional improvements for pedestrians and increased police visibility. This also includes commencing or continuing longer-term processes, such as a city-wide transportation network study to identify current and future demands on our infrastructure, a road marsh crossing assessment 1 and design work on a future community center.
The budget process also remained aligned with the budget targets identified by the City Council at the start of the year. They intended to increase the army rate by no more than 3% (the norm from previous years). It will remain below this threshold and potentially decrease when the calculation of the city’s total rating is complete. The budget also meets their targets of less than 5% gross budget increase and less than 15% debt service as a percentage of operating budget. Finally, their ongoing fiscal health goal was to optimize the use of Tax Increment Funding (TIF) districts as a source of revenue for the city. Protected value is allocated to designated project areas to enhance community economic development. This year, Scarborough TIF Districts begin to generate and support various operating and capital expenditures.
All budget documents can be viewed on the budget portal accessible from the home page of the City of Scarborough website, www.scarboroughmaine.org. Public meetings can be viewed on the City’s Public Meetings YouTube channel. Sign up for bi-monthly email newsletters for the latest updates.
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