AUBURN — The City Council approved next year’s $46.3 million municipal budget Monday and sent the $55.7 million school budget on to voters June 14.

The votes came after a workshop discussion and some last-minute amendments to the fiscal 2023 budgets, which are projected to bring the property tax rate up nearly $1 to $24.80 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The final adjustments approved by councilors shaved 19 cents off the proposed property tax increase, but officials said the tax rate will not be finalized until later this year when the city’s new valuation is confirmed.

City Manager Phil Crowell said $16 million in estimated new valuation was added into the budget, which is the basis for the projected tax rate, but officials said the $16 million figure is conservative. That means the final tax rate increase could end up being lower.

Prior to votes to approve both budgets, the council added $68,000 to the Fire Department budget in response to a request from Chief Robert Chase for the cost of benefits for additional fire personnel.

The council also approved using $500,000 from the city’s fund balance toward the school budget in an effort to cut down on the tax rate increase.


An original motion from Councilor Leroy Walker would have asked the school department to use $300,000 of its fund balance toward the cut, but school officials said the district is already using a large chunk of fund balance this year, and is trying to be cautious with an expected funding cliff next year.

During discussions Monday, several officials said the outlook for next year is difficult and said they are hoping Auburn can continue to add new valuation to keep up with increased costs. If not, either taxes will increase or services will be cut.

The council voted 5-2 to approve the school budget. Auburn residents will vote on it during the June 14 validation referendum.

Councilor Belinda Gerry was the only councilor to vote against both budgets, stating that residents are seeing cost increases for nearly everything.

“I think we need to come in lower,” she said.

Mayor Jason Levesque said he believes the city can continue to grow valuation to help offset substantial increases for taxpayers, but said the growth will have to rise significantly.

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