LEWISTON — School Committee members on Wednesday directed administrators to create a budget option with a $1.70 tax rate increase. It would mean a budget of about $101 million and equal $340 more in taxes on a property valued at $200,000.

The initial budget proposal of $105.7 million would have led to a property tax increase of $2.43, or $486 more on a property valued at $200,000.

If approved, the $101 million would be a 3% increase from the current budget.

The motion for a budget with a $1.70 tax rate increase passed 5-2, with Ward 2 representative Janet Beaudoin and Ward 6 representative Meghan Hird voting in opposition. Both members expressed their desires to minimize tax increases during discussions.

Although the Lewiston school district received word Tuesday that the state would provide an additional $800,000, budget discussions Wednesday night remained subdued.

A proposed emergency edit to state rules regarding out-of-district special education tuition payment announced this week could have added more than $1 million in unexpected costs to the budget, Superintendent Jake Langlais said. However, on Thursday morning, superintendents learned that the state had withdrawn the proposed edit.


Ward 1 representative Bruce Damon, who initially proposed a tax impact of $1.75, said he believes including the full budgeted amount for out-of-district placements necessitates the increase. Langlais has proposed that $500,000 could be cut from funds budgeted for out-of-district placements.

“If we don’t have that in there, I’m very concerned, particularly with this (proposed emergency edit), that we would end up short,” Damon said.

Ward 7 representative Paul Beauparlant said his perspective on the school budget shifted after reading through the city budget, which would increase municipal spending by 13%. He expressed concerns about proposed increases in that budget, specifically pointing to a new city administration position that he said was budgeted for $180,000.

“I don’t know why we should have to take it on the chin when” the city is proposing such significant increases, he said. “These teachers are worth every darn cent. … I just think that we have to fight for our own legitimacy on this.”

Damon expressed similar sentiments, saying he would go as far as to support the initial $105.7 million budget proposal. He felt that a $1.70 tax increase would be “very fiscally responsible,” especially when compared to the city’s proposal.


The majority of members said they would not support reductions to The Store Next Door, which serves Lewiston’s homeless youth and their families. Cuts to the nonprofit organization are proposed to total $50,000.

“What I’m hearing from my fellow members is ‘I don’t want to cut this,’ and I understand the reasoning behind it, but we’re not hearing other suggestions of where we can cut,” Beaudoin said earlier in the meeting. “My gut tells me that City Council is not going to like this number we bring to them.”

Beaudoin again pressed Langlais to consider potential cuts from administration. Langlais agreed to bring information to the committee.

Two members, including Hird, said they wanted to keep two school nurse positions, which are slated to end this year due to the loss of some federal relief funds. Langlais said if the funding situation changes, these positions are high on his list to add into the budget.

Other priority positions Langlais listed included an additional substance abuse counselor at the high school and social emotional learning positions currently funded by federal funds. But the financial situations doesn’t currently support these additions.

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