WATERVILLE — Alternative Organizational Structure 92 Superintendent Eric Haley told the city’s Board of Education on Wednesday that he has recommendations for trimming the proposed $21.3 million city school budget to get it to where he thinks Mayor Nick Isgro wants it, but it will mean some bloodletting.

“It’s not a pretty picture,” Haley said.

Combined, the proposed city and school budgets total $37.8 million. If that figure were approved, the city’s tax rate would increase from $27.40 per $1,000 worth of valuation to $29.90, for a $2.50 increase in the tax rate. With that increase, a resident with a home worth $100,000 would pay $250 more in taxes.

Isgro has said he wants to see an increase of only 50 cents, or anything under $1.

Haley said he is to meet with the city’s finance committee Thursday to discuss the budget. He and the school finance director, Paula Pooler, worked on the budget issue all afternoon Wednesday.

“I am in the process of doing some crisis decision-making with regard to the budget, because if we have to go where I think they want us to, we’ve got some serious issues facing this 2015-16 budget,” Haley said.


The proposed school budget represents the need for $658,000 in new taxes, which equals about $1 per $1,000 of valuation, Haley said. He said he has come up with some recommendations he would make to the school board that would reduce that number to $200,000, if needed.

Those recommendations wouldn’t include eliminating any of the existing staff, but it would mean moving three teachers into other positions and not filling a full-time groundskeeper position, he said. Also, it’s possible the schools could get an additional $135,000 in revenue to help further decrease the amount and $50,000 could be taken from the undesignated fund and $50,000 in MaineCare money.

“Will we lose some services? Yes, we absolutely will lose some existing services,” Haley said.

Board members Wednesday talked about the difficulty of preparing a budget when schools don’t know how much they are going to get from the state, which must approve a state budget by July 1 to stave off a state government shutdown.

Board member Pamela Trinward, a former state representative, said if that happens, every organization funded by the state will be out of work except emergency personnel.

“Everybody goes home,” she said. “They close the offices. They close the buildings. It’s not pretty.


City councilors on Tuesday postponed until next Tuesday taking a first vote on the proposed $37.8 million municipal and school budget, saying the amount of state revenue is unknown, the proposal represents too large of an increase and more work must be done to it, including making some cuts. The proposed municipal budget is $16.5 million.

The school board on April 13 voted 6-0 to approve the proposed $21.3 million school budget. Member Elizabeth Bickford was absent from that meeting. Haley said the increase from the current $20.7 million budget is due to a $389,000 increase in salaries and benefits, $227,000 in medical insurance and $68,833 in teacher retirement.

The City Council must take three votes on the municipal and school budget, and the school board may not take its second vote on the budget until after the council takes its third vote, according to Haley.

Meanwhile, the city’s budget represents no increase in spending, but state revenue is down.

Haley said it has been a long, hard road since 2008. The economy faltered and people looked anywhere possible to find resources to fill the gap.

“We’re down and out,” he said. “There’s nothing left.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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