Thursday, 01 May 2014 02:17

2015 Bangor School Budget Discussed at City Finance Meeting

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BANGOR - Despite the tense conversation Monday night, Bangor city staff and councilors remained calm Wednesday night discussing the 2015 school budget. City councilors getting answers to questions that concern many area residents, especially where cuts in the overall budget may come from.

"I believe every single person in this room wants the same thing, which is the best possible educational opportunities for young people at the fairest cost for the property tax payers," Council Chair Ben Sprague, for Bangor, says.

It's that issue that worries councilors, staff, and residents the most, property tax hikes.

From both the city and school sides of the budget, there's a possibility the taxpayer could face a $1.50 increase.

"I can not imagine raising property taxes by $1.50," Sprague says. "I also can't imagine our schools not being properly funded. Unfortunately, I can't find anywhere on the city side to make up part of the gap."

That's the problem that both committees are facing, where to make the cuts.

The school committee has already cut over $1.8 million from the original draft of the 2015 school budget, and board members say anymore could severely impact the district's education.

"We've narrowed this budget down so much that we've gone line by line and taken 'x' amount of dollars from each line to get to the point where we are tonight," Warren Caruso, Chairman of the Bangor School Committee, says.

"I think it would be fool-hearted for us to go beyond what the committee is recommending," Councilor Joe Baldacci says. "Mainly because of the fact it's going to have a severe impact on the future of Bangor."

"We do not really have two sides of the municipal budget," Sprague says. "We have one budget that we work on as a team, the schools and the city sides of things.

"I believe that community looks to us to be a team," Dr. Betsy Webb, Superintendent of schools, says. "We need to figure out this time together. Trying to find, what I call, a 'sweet spot' of what is the right amount."

The finance committee will continue to work out the 2015 budget over the next few weeks.

As for the school budget, the council will need to approve that number sometime before it heads to the polls in June for election.

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