AUBURN — It didn’t come down to cutting city or school spending, according to some of the nearly 100 residents at Thursday night’s budget forum at Auburn Middle School.

Neither one spends enough, they said.

“This is my city and I’ve invested in this city and I want to stay in it,” Sharon Wood of West Auburn Road said at a budget forum hosted by the city and the School Department. “I would like to see my city invest in itself so that I can stay here.”

School Superintendent Katy Grondin said every resident in the city was invited to the forum and nearly 100 attended. She and City Manager Howard Kroll walked the group through the city budgets and how they arrived at a proposed tax rate and spending plan.

Auburn’s proposed municipal budget calls for $38.5 million in spending, a 1.79 percent increase for fiscal year 2015-16 compared to the current budget. That’s under a 1.8 percent city spending limit councilors have said they plan to enforce.

The school budget calls for $39.9 million, a 4.6 percent increase compared to the current budget. That would push city spending up about 3.2 percent for combined city-school services — about $78.5 million.


Councilors have said the 1.8 percent increase should apply to the schools as well and have urged the School Committee to cut $1.06 million from its budget to keep under the council’s line.

Potential cuts presented to the School Committee include closing the Land Lab, flat-funding the school building budget, reducing building maintenance and offering teachers near retirement incentives to step down.

Grondin said she needs to find $632,202 in cuts to get under the city’s 1.8 percent increase.

Forum attendees gathered around tables in groups of seven or eight were encouraged to talk to each other between topics.

The crowd didn’t want to boost the school budget at the city’s expense. Instead, they directed their criticism at the tax-limiting clause in the city ordinance that aims to keep the cap on next year’s spending at a 1.8 percent increase.

Jim Berube of Rosewood Road noted that councilors had kept property increases to a minimum during the past seven years.


“We just continue to cut and continue to cut, but we have to raise taxes at some point,” he said. “Nobody likes to pay more taxes. But that’s part of the problem, right there.”

School Committee members are scheduled to vote on a final budget May 6 and city councilors are scheduled to approve it May 11.

Voters will decide on it at the polls June 9.

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