WINSLOW — The Town Council postponed signing a consent agreement with a resident, and took the final vote on the municipal and school budget at its meeting Monday evening.

The combined municipal and school budget of $21.97 million, an increase over the budget in the first reading of $21.82 million, was passed 7-0. There were no comments during a public hearing held before the meeting.

The projected tax rate will be $16.74 per $1,000 of assessed property value, $1 higher than last year’s.

Councilor Ken Fletcher said the tax rate wouldn’t have increased by $1 and could possibly have been decreased if the state fully funded education and revenue sharing.

The Town Council discussed a compromise for the school budget at a workshop on May 2 and decided to provide additional funds by increasing the tax rate slightly and withdrawing $350,000 from the undesignated fund balance. In exchange, the school has to make an additional $150,000 in cuts, bringing its budget to $14.53 million.

The council voted to approve an amendment reflecting the changes, 7-0.

The amendment also stipulates that additional revenues will go first to the town’s undesignated fund balance and then to reduce the local tax rate.

While the budget has “stopped the bleeding,” Fletcher said, if nothing changes in the Legislature, “next year is gonna be really rough.”

Schools across Maine, including Winslow, are struggling with potentially massive cuts to state revenue after Gov. Paul LePage recommended 48 changes to the funding formula for essential programs and services.

As of now, the state budget would cut more than 6 percent of Winslow schools’ state revenue, or $423,494. Altogether, the school is losing $392,740 in revenue.

The Town Council also voted to delay signing a consent agreement with a resident, 7-0.

The agreement would release Caleb Albert from penalties for violating a setback requirement, while releasing the town from allegations of salt contamination.

In a copy of the agreement that the Morning Sentinel received on Monday, the town says it will not enforce the setback requirement against Albert, who owns two lots on Clinton Avenue, and to waive any fines and penalties associated with the violation.

The town’s code requires that structures maintain a 15-foot setback from the property line. While the structures on the property won permits from the Planning Board, Town Manager Michael Heavener said that the stakes for the home were moved during construction.

The town is entering into the agreement because the property is near its municipal salt and sand storage area, which is uncovered. Albert paid to connect his house to the municipal water supply to avoid potential water contamination at the property.

The agreement says that, “considering the continuing violation of the Winslow Code’s setback requirement . . . but also mindful of the expenses incurred by the Property Owner” in connecting the lots to the water supply, the town agreed to waive its rights as long as Albert waived the right to claim the town owed him money.

In 2015, Cory Dow, who lives across from Albert’s properties, found that his well was contaminated with sodium and chloride, or salt. In a water test from April 2015, the water in Dow’s well measured 2,800 milligrams of sodium per liter. The healthy limit for sodium in drinking water is 20 milligrams per liter, and too much of it can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

Dow blamed the town for the pollution, pointing to a report by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection that a nearby town salt pile was the problem. But the town government had its own study done, which suggested it was not at fault.

In September, the Town Council agreed to pay Dow $16,739 in a settlement without prejudice, meaning that the town did not admit any liability in the issue. The settlement covers Dow’s cost to hook up to a public water line, as well as legal costs.

Another town-issued report completed over the summer of 2016 said the salt and sand pile was a potential source of the contamination. Because the town’s research couldn’t completely rule out the pile as the problem, it decided to settle with Dow.

In other business, Earl Watts was elected to the Planning Board in a vote of 5-2, with Raymond Caron and Patricia West opposed. Watts ran for the position against H. Max Sheehan.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour