LEWISTON — The School Committee voted 7-1 on Monday to approve a budget that will decrease the local tax rate by 41 cents per $1,000 of property value.

The superintendent’s original budget of $91.04 million was twice reduced, first to lower the additional local increase to zero and then to cut another $1.1 million to further ease the burden on taxpayers during the pandemic.

Committee member Kiernan Majerus-Collins voted against the $88.6 million budget presented Monday.

He said he objected to using the coronavirus aid bill funding to reduce property taxes.

“We don’t know what will happen in the fall,” he said. “We need to be as resource-ready as possible and keep that money available.”

The bill, approved by Congress in March, provides federal emergency funding to those affected by the coronavirus.

Lewiston Public Schools expects to receive about $2 million.

About $718,000 of this will be used toward the $1.1 million in budget cuts, Chief Administrative Officer Bobbi Avery said.

Without using the federal aid money, cuts would have to be made in regular and special education instruction.

The budget will go to the City Council in the next two weeks for approval and to Lewiston voters in July.

The committee Monday also approved, 8-0, spending $255,000 to upgrade security at the Dingley Building, which houses the central offices.

The money is to be transferred from previous years’ capital projects that have balances, Avery said.

She recommended deferring a $600,000 parking lot expansion at McMahon Elementary School on North Temple Street.

Member Bruce Damon said he was disappointed that the project would not be funded.

“That’s a security issue in and of itself right at moment,” Damon said. “Paving prices are as low as they will get. We cannot completely ignore infrastructure.”

Member Ron Potvin agreed and moved to include funding for the parking lot. The motion passed unanimously.


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