Arghhh, Mateys! Just in time for the budget, the pirate ship Tax & Plunder was seen approaching the Co-op dock at Pine Point! The black-hearted buccaneers are coming again for your hard-earned doubloons! Fear not, though, LookOutScarborough is here to protect you from the scurvy wretches!
Well, now that we’ve gotten that out of system…
It’s time once again to vote on the school budget. We had hoped that the Town Council would stick to their promise of producing a budget that would satisfy the majority of folks in town and pass on the first ballot. Alas, they did not keep that promise, and we have no choice but to urge a NO vote on the school budget on June 12.
We have five really good reasons to VOTE NO on the budget. As always, we’ll keep things brief and to the point. So here are the highlights:
The amount of taxes to be raised just for the schools is $44.7 million, an increase of $2.5 million or 5.9% over last year. Again, not fiscally responsible and not affordable for many Scarborough residents.
Several Town Council members swore up and down that they wouldn’t approve a budget that increased the tax rate by more than 3%. But guess what, the tax rate increase is 4.4% when you don’t consider the impact of the commercial revaluation! And that revaluation impact was not part of the original pledge to keep the increase at less than 3%. Councilors Babine, Caiazzo, Caterina, Donovan and Rowan – you’re busted! Let’s hold their feet to the fire!
This year’s scam was the commercial property revaluation. That revaluation process produces a significant automatic tax rate decrease. The Town Council didn’t have to “work hard” to cause that decrease. But they have used part of that automatic decrease to offset additional spending. Councilors Babine, Caiazzo, Caterina, Donovan and Rowan – stop playing the residents of Scarborough for fools!
When the Town Council briefly toyed with the idea of legitimately meeting their target of a less than 3% tax rate increase, Town Manager Hall and Superintendent Kukenberger were asked to provide lists of proposed reductions from the submitted budgets. While the Town Manager offered some reasonable proposals, the Superintendent was essentially defiant, insisting that the only way to make any reductions to her $48.5 million expense budget was by cutting teachers. This did not pass the straight-face test. Dr. Kukenberger, enough with the scare tactics!
[By the way, don’t be surprised after the June 12 budget vote goes down in flames to hear one of the golden oldies of scare tactics make another appearance. That’s right, 7th grade sports on the chopping block again! Ahh, the good old days return! You heard it here first.]
Here are a few quick reports that you probably won’t see anywhere else:
Is it true that more town and school business is being conducted these days at the bar at O’Reilly’s Cure than in the Council Chambers? Perhaps that’s because O’Reilly’s has a more dependable audio-visual system…
We hear that one of the buccaneers often ventures further inland for his daily rations of grog, so be on the look out.
Apparently it escaped Superintendent Kukenberger’s notice, but the overwhelming recall vote applied to her as well the three School Board members. Some have reported that she is waiting for the golden handshake. (It could be a long wait.) Dr. Kukenberger – you have been voted off the island. It’s time for you to go!
Enrollment way up…
… at Cheverus, Maine Girls’ Academy (formerly, McAuley) and Waynflete. We’ve heard credible reports that admissions directors at those schools are all in line for nice performance bonuses based on the influx of kids from Scarborough. (Let’s hope they do the right thing and share part of their bonuses with Dr. K.)
Scarborough High School marches up in the rankings!
Interestingly, the School Department seems to be giving this piece of positive news a good leaving alone. Why would that be?
A final thought…
Some have suggested that a NO vote is “holding the school budget hostage.” We would argue that a NO vote is holding the Town Council accountable. There will be no dire consequences to the school budget if it is voted down. Please don’t believe that hype. A NO vote is a clear message to the Town Council that modest adjustments need to be made to both the municipal and school budgets to arrive at a tax rate increase that at least meets their own goal of less than 3%. Is that too much to ask?