WATERVILLE — The Waterville Board of Education on Wednesday voted 7-0 to approve a $21.2 million school budget for 2015-16.

The school board traditionally has taken a final vote on the budget after the City Council takes its final vote.

Councilors on Tuesday voted 6-1 to approve a $37.4 million municipal and school budget, stipulating that $58,000 the schools got in state subsidy, beyond what school officials expected to get, be put toward reducing property taxes rather than placed into the surplus account.

The council voted July 7 to approve the $37.4 million budget, stipulating that the $58,000 be placed in surplus, but Mayor Nick Isgro vetoed that vote July 8, saying he thought the $58,000 should be used as it was intended, for schools, and not put into surplus.

Councilors on Tuesday upheld Isgro’s veto and took a final vote on the budget with an amendment that the $58,000 be taken out of surplus and put toward tax relief. As a result, the city’s tax rate of $27.40 per $1,000 worth of valuation was increased to $27.80 — or by 40 cents. Therefore, a homeowner with property worth $100,000 will pay $40 more in taxes.

Councilor John O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, voted against the budget Tuesday, saying the city’s surplus needs to be built up and the city has used surplus the last few years to help balance the budget. School Board member Pamela Trinward on Wednesday agreed that the money should have remained in surplus, as the surplus has been drawn down and taking more out of it is not a good idea, particularly when problems arise and extra money is needed.

“I will make the argument next year that we shouldn’t be taking any money from the undesignated account,” Trinward said. “There are issues that come up and it would be dangerous to do that.”

School Superintendent Eric Haley agreed that O’Donnell was right in saying officials need to be looking three or four years down the road. Haley said he disagreed with what one councilor told him — that officials should focus on what’s happening today.

“To me, that’s crazy,” Haley said. “You have to look down the road so we can sustain what we have.”

Trinward reiterated that the undesignated fund, or surplus, is not “an endless well of money.”

“It’s unfortunate that Waterville went that way,” she said of the council vote.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.