October 28, 2021

Officials mull school budget> Brewer leaders hold joint meeting

BREWER — During a joint workshop Tuesday night for city and school officials, Superintendent Allan Snell presented a $12.1 million draft budget for education next year.

Though the gross proposed budget reflects an increase of $777,620 — or 6.8 percent — over this year’s budget, the impact on taxpayers translates to a 4.2 percent increase, primarily due to improved revenue projections.

“This is the worst-case scenario,” Snell said, adding that he expected the financial picture would improve somewhat once the Legislature has determined exactly how much subsidy the state will distribute to its public schools.

That issue is still being debated in the state Capitol, Snell said Tuesday. The school committee is not expected to complete its budget plan until that matter is resolved.

According to Snell, a recent printout from Augusta suggested that Brewer would have received $1.5 million more in school subsidy if general purpose aid were funded at the level state law says it should be.

“That’s a stunning figure to me,” Snell said.

Be that as it may, the draft budget Snell presented during this week’s special City Council meeting was much rosier than what school officials grappled with a year ago.

At about this time last year, school officials imposed a freeze on all but normal operating costs and directed school administrators to prepare a prioritized list of $350,000.

Though the budget was the purpose of Tuesday’s workshop, school and city officials spent the bulk of their time together in education dialogue that waxed philosophical at times.

One recent change that prompted comment and praise from city and school officials was the improving relations between the City Council and the school committee, which until recent years was considered by some to be adversarial.

In other business, the council confirmed last month’s appointments of City Manager Stephen M. Bost and Economic Development Director Andrew Sachs and conducted a public hearing on proposed charter amendments that would result in election changes.

The city is working toward consolidating annual municipal elections — now held in October in even-numbered years — with the state’s general elections in November.

Councilor Manley DeBeck Jr. said that “99 percent” of the voters he encountered during his campaign for council last October told him that having two elections only weeks apart was “silly” and a waste of money.

According to City Clerk Arthur Verow, combining elections will save the city about $3,000. If all goes to plan, the necessary charter changes will be put before voters Nov. 2. If the amendments are approved at the polls, the changes will take effect in 2000.

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