LEWISTON — The School Committee took no action Monday night on an opportunity to reduce the tax impact of the 2021-22 budget.

The committee’s $95.7 million spending plan calls for a property tax increase of 78 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Superintendent Jake Langlais offered an option for reducing that by 35 cents by using more COVID-19 relief money and carryover money to remove $700,000 from the general fund.

“The risks in these measures are future impacts,” he said.

Using relief funds for recurring expenses would mean that money would not be carried forward and would have to be included in future budgets.

“I am very, very concerned about the level of relief funds being used this year ($3.5 million), but I wanted to provide an opportunity for you to alter your budget,” Langlais told the committee.

He wrote in a memorandum to the committee that its members could use an additional $200,000 in relief funds and an additional $500,000 in unexpended carryover funds, leaving $1 million.

Committee member Ron Potvin said this action would be “spelling disaster” for the school district.

But he acknowledged the City Council — scheduled to vote on the school budget Tuesday night — was uncomfortable with the tax increase. Constituents also have complained, he said.

Potvin made a motion to alter the budget by taking an additional $300,000 from carryover funds and reducing the amount for supplies, such as technology devices, equipment, software and books, by $100,000. The committee had budgeted too much for supplies, he said.

That would reduce the tax commitment by 20 cents, he said, adding, “I think that’s reasonable.”

The motion did not receive a second.

“I’m strongly opposed to any changes in the budget that this committee approved unanimously,” member Kiernan Majerus-Collins said.

He said the committee could not count on future committees to “pay our debt” and pick up its bill.

“I look forward to this being passed by the council and the public,” he said. “I am strongly opposed to undercutting public education.”

Others agreed.

“I’m sorry if the City Council thinks we are asking for too much,” member Lynnea Hawkins said. “What we came forward with is reasonable, responsible and it makes sense.”

The proposed budget is designed to bring the district’s English language learners program up to federal standards and to address the needs of the most vulnerable, including students who have fallen behind because of remote instruction during the pandemic.

The City Council is set to vote on the spending plan Tuesday. A citywide referendum is scheduled for May 11.

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