AUGUSTA — The proposed $27.56 million school budget faces public comment and City Council scrutiny Thursday night.

The proposal would require about $12 million from local taxpayers and increase property taxes about 5 percent.

It’s based on state funding levels that haven’t been finalized because the Legislature has not approved the state budget.

Interim Superintendent James Anastasio included $452,000 in additional contingency funds in the budget to cover the potential extra cost of picking up a larger share of teacher retirement costs, which Gov. Paul LePage’s budget would shift from the state to local school districts, though state officials have said the effect will be lower than that amount.

Anastasio said Tuesday that “information from the state seems to change often,” but that the teacher retirement discussion had not been finalized at the state level.

A public comment session, specifically on the school budget, will follow what is expected to be a brief Council meeting Thursday night. The meeting begins at 6:30 in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

The Board of Education approved the school budget in late March.

In Augusta, the school budget needs City Council approval, too. Councilors can, and in past years often have, sent the budget approved by the school board back to the board for additional cuts.

When school officials first presented the budget to city councilors, they stressed that local taxpayers, if the budget were approved as proposed, would be contributing $242,000 less than the state’sEssential Programs and Services funding formula indicates should be raised from local taxes.

The school budget also is subject to voter approval in a budget validation referendum in June.

A public hearing on the combined city and school budget of $52.6 million, which would increase taxes 6.6 percent, is planned for May 23, with the overall budget tentatively scheduled to be finalized May 30.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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