AUBURN — Even with police officers for Auburn schools back in the city budget, councilors approved their 2015-16 spending plan Monday night.

Councilors sent their proposed budget on to a June 15 second and final reading at their regular meeting Monday.

The budget increases municipal spending from $34.1 million to $34.7 — a $568,302 increase and under the 1.8 percent spending cap councilors set earlier this year.

School spending increases a little more, from $38.2 million to $39 million — a 2.15 percent increase.

School officials also pushed $173,000 to pay costs for school resource officers back to the city. Councilors had requested the school budget cover those costs, while staying under the 1.8 percent budget increase. School officials declined and put the officers’ funding back in front of councilors.

Finance Director Jill Eastman said some new revenue estimates and a better-than-expected price for gasoline would cover those costs.


Some city councilors balked. However, Councilor Belinda Gerry said that decision forced her to vote against the budget.

“I cannot support the school budget,” Gerry said. “I think they should have been accountable and held to 1.8 percent like everybody else. And I don’t think their priorities are in order. There are things they should have funded that they did not.”

Gerry and Councilor Tizz Crowley both voted against it. Councilor Leroy Walker ultimately voted to approve the budget, but he said he did not like the school’s spending plan.

“I believe they should have listened to this council and come in with the budget we asked for,” Walker said. “And they should have taken on the (school resource officers.)”

Auburn voters will have their say on the school budget at the polls June 9.

Councilor Adam Lee leveled his criticism at the council’s 1.8 percent spending ceiling. That’s based on a city ordinance that limits budget increases to the Consumer Price Index’s urban calculation, and Lee said it’s an arbitrary number.


“I frankly think beginning with the CPI and only dealing with that, rather than tackling the real issues, is shortsighted,” Lee said.

Councilor Mary LaFontaine agreed.

“We need to maintain a tax rate that’s affordable,” she said. “We have other issues that have to be dealt with. We have to evaluate more and more how we spend it.”

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