LISBON — The town council approved the school committee’s proposed $17.6 million school budget on Tuesday, which increases taxes 2%.

The school budget would increase local taxes by $148,699, bumping the tax rate up 23 cents per $1,000 of property value. That equates to an additional $46 on a home valued at $200,000. The town’s share of the Androscoggin County budget would add another 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Despite those increases, Lisbon Town Manager Diane Barnes said she hopes the overall tax rate will remain flat because the proposed $8.9 million municipal budget would decrease the tax rate by an estimated 50 cents per $1,000 of value.

The proposed municipal budget comes with a $323,939 decrease in tax spending. The council will vote on the municipal budget on June 23.

School committee Chairwoman Traci Austin said Tuesday the school committee met Monday to discuss the school department’s needs and whittled down the budgeted tax increase to 2%. The budget still includes money for a trauma coordinator to create programs and help teachers respond to students with behavioral issues exacerbated by coronavirus disruptions. Austin said the remaining tax increases are due to contractual salary and benefit increases.

While some councilors thought a 2% increase in taxes is still too much, Councilor Fern Larochelle said he’s always concerned about the council trying to achieve a budget that doesn’t increase taxes.

“Last year we thought we had a pretty flat budget, but we had one of the biggest increases in several years only because of calculations we can’t control,” Larochelle said.

“I get that, I really do,” said Councilor Don Fellows, “but I also think we have a responsibility to other people. We have a responsibility to taxpayers, we have a responsibility to each other to come in at a reasonable sum and I can guarantee you if we’re going up 2% on the school budget or whatever it is, the taxes are going up.”

The two school budget articles containing the local tax spending and the overall $17.6 million spending plan was passed by a 5-2 council vote.

Lisbon residents will vote on the school budget at Lisbon High School on July 14. Absentee ballots are available. Town Clerk Twila Lycette said she is encouraging people to vote absentee because there will be long lines at the polls due to social distancing restrictions.


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