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Gorham budgets may add up to tax increase

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:04 am

GORHAM – If early Gorham school budget projections and preliminary revenue figures are accurate, local taxes are likely set to grow.

The municipal budget goes to the Town Council next week, when Town Manager David Cole hands councilors his proposed spending plan at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, in Gorham Municipal Center, 75 South St.

A year ago, the town’s approved municipal budget was $13 million, including the $843,230 county tax. Municipal workshops are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, and Tuesday, April 9. Snow canceled a pre-budget council workshop with Cole on March 19.

Meanwhile, Gorham School Committee has already begun examining a $32.6 million budget proposal by Superintendent Ted Sharp, but it’s a proposal with numbers subject to change.

On Wednesday night, after the American Journal’s deadline, school officials were scheduled hear the report of a study about feasibility of extending the kindergarten to all day from a half-day program now. Voters last year validated a school budget that did not fund all day kindergarten.

Following the kindergarten report, School Committee members were to resume reviewing the proposed budget. It heard details of Sharp’s proposal and figures from department administrators in a lengthy workshop on March 23. 

“This is by far the most difficult financial climate I remember,” Sharp, a longtime superintendent, told committee members on Saturday.

Sharp’s proposal represents a $368,630 increase above this year’s $32.2 million budget. Sharp’s proposal as submitted would hike the local share $1 million to be paid by property taxpayers to support Gorham schools.

Gorham projected receiving $17.7 million in state subsidy, which would be up $339, 147 from this year’s $17.4 million. But officials on Saturday were awaiting the state’s final figures.

Additional expenses for Gorham this year include $411,113 to pay for teacher retirements covered previously by the state, combined with a revenue boost last year of $620,000 from a designated fund balance

The public will have its first opportunity to be heard on the proposed budget in a hearing from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3. The School Committee is set to vote on the budget at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, with Sharp delivering it to Cole on Monday, April 22.

Other important dates for the school budget are a joint workshop with the Town Council on Tuesday, May 21; School Committee workshop, if needed, on Wednesday, May 22; public hearing and Town Council approval,  Tuesday, June 4; and a referendum asking voters to approve the school budget on Tuesday, June 11. 

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