The Portland City Council’s Finance Committee held a joint City/School budget meeting last night, Thursday, April 29, 2021. During the meeting, the Committee voted 3-0 to recommend a $1.48 million reduction in the Portland Board of Education’s (School Board) budget increase request, a 5.1% increase over last year. The recommended budget from the School Board included a requested tax levy increase of $6.24 million, but this amount was amended by the Finance Committee down to $4.76 million to balance the impact to taxpayers during the pandemic and in anticipation of the impending citywide revaluation. The $4.76 million increase will result in a 46 cent increase (just under +4%) to the School portion of the mill rate.
The School Board approved a $125.2 million FY22 budget on April13 and the budget as initially approved would have required an increased investment of $6.24 million from local taxpayers, and would have resulted in a 5.5 percent increase in the school portion of the tax rate. The final approved FY21 School budget included $119.9M of expenditures.
“Our recommendation to the full City Council as the Finance Committee was to decrease the School's proposed increase for the next fiscal year in order to have no combined tax rate increase for our taxpayers,” said Nick Mavodones, Finance Committee Chair. “We are very supportive of the work the School Board and Department is doing and looking to achieve, and I think it’s important to stress that their FY22 budget still includes a nearly $5 million increase over last year. However, we’re mindful of the fact that our taxpayers are still managing the impacts the pandemic has had on their own budgets. Combine that with the upcoming revaluation process, and we feel it’s fiscally prudent to try and avoid any tax rate increases this year.”
“I’m fully supportive of the work and policies the School Board is trying to achieve, but I feel we need to solve the problem we’re facing today, which is the ability of our taxpayers to absorb additional costs, and I think most would expect a zero tax rate increase this year,” said Councilor Mark Dion, District 5. “I’m hopeful the School Board will be able to find a way to strategically use available American Rescue Plan (ARP) federal funds this year to achieve their goals. Combined with the municipal budget’s use of ARP funds and the 4% decrease to funds to be raised by local taxes on the city side, we can avoid any tax rate increase.”
The Finance Committee’s recommendation for the FY22 School budget goes to the full Council during a Special Meeting on Monday, May 10, 2021.
The Finance Committee will meet again to review the FY22 Municipal budget on May 6, 13, and 20. The first read and public hearing on the Municipal budget will be held by the full City Council during its May 17 meeting and the second read will be held during its June 7 meeting.