AUBURN — The School Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed a $55.7 million budget, which the mayor of Auburn and other members praised for its foresight and transparency.

“It’s more transparent than it probably ever has been,” Mayor Jason Levesque, the City Council representative on the committee, said. “It’s been growing in transparency over the last two years, so I definitely appreciate that,” he told Superintendent Cornelia Brown.

Included in the budget are two new capital reserve funds: one for capital improvements at the new Edward Little High School and one for technology purchases. Each was allocated $125,000.

“I think oftentimes we’ve been at a fault for, we purchase things, but we don’t look at the upkeep and things fall apart,” Ward 2 representative Pamela Hart said. “So, I think it’s important if we’re going to be spending millions of dollars on a new high school that we make sure the upkeep is there, and I appreciate that.”

The spending plan would have Auburn residents paying 48 cents more per $1,000 in assessed property value.

This is the “worst-case scenario for a (tax) increase; … it can only get better,” Levesque said. The city expects to factor in $16 million to $19 million in new valuation to the city, which would contribute to  lowering school taxes.

An owner of a $150,000 home will pay roughly $72.47 more in school tax under the proposed plan, which will also need to be approved by the City Council and voters.

The $7.4 million increase is largely linked to the construction of the Edward Little High School, a $104.7 million project approved by voters in 2019, of which the state will pay the majority.

“I’m going to support this budget because I do believe that what we’re doing is chasing success with more capital in order to expand upon success,” Levesque said. “That’s something that the council and myself have been asking for the past four-plus years of budgets.”

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