LEWISTON — The City Council approved next year’s $58.3 million municipal budget Tuesday, and sent along the school department’s $101 million budget for next week’s budget validation referendum.

The combined budgets will result in a property tax rate of $30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of $1.50 from this year.

According to City Administrator Heather Hunter, the municipal budget represents a 10-cent increase to the tax rate, with the school budget reflecting a $1.34 increase. The county budget increase adds 6 cents. The property tax increase would add roughly $375 to the tax bill for a home valued at $250,000.

Officials said managing this year’s budget, with large increases in costs, was especially difficult. Many said tough decisions had to be made, but that next year may be even more difficult.

When approving more than $11 million in spending using fund balance, or a “rainy day” fund, Councilor Bob McCarthy said the city will not be able to repeat the same thing next year.

Despite some large cost increases, councilors said they were pleased that the municipal budget only added 10 cents to the tax rate. The council voted unanimously in support of both the city and school budgets.


Hunter reminded the public that the originally-proposed budgets at the start of budget season would have resulted in a $6 increase to the tax rate.

During weeks of budget deliberations, councilors waded through a number of debates, including a recent push to cut hours at the Lewiston Public Library.

Prior to the council’s vote on the school budget, several teachers spoke out in favor of the Lewiston School Department’s social and emotional learning program, stating it was in reaction to previous comments from Councilor Rick LaChapelle.

One teacher said Lewiston public schools “is leading the way in equity and (social and emotional learning) work in the state, and we should be patting ourselves on the back for that and keep pushing forward instead of going backwards.”

LaChapelle said he didn’t want to create an “us versus them” atmosphere, but pointed out that the school budget reflects a $1.34 increase while the municipal budget is 10 cents.

“If anyone says we’re not supporting students, look at that,” he said, adding that while “I might not agree with some of the tactics,” teachers are the “frontline workers, and bust their butts.”

LaChapelle also said, “But if we think this year hurts, just wait until next year. It’s going to be miserable next year.”

After the meeting Tuesday, Mayor Carl Sheline said, “This budget season was marked by strong feedback and strong opinions. In the end, we came together to pass a budget that works for both our city and our schools while keeping the mill rate as low as possible for our taxpayers. My gratitude goes out to my fellow council members, the school committee, as well as municipal and school staff.”

The original version of this story said Tuesday’s budget vote was a first reading, however, the city charter only requires one vote to approve the annual budget appropriation. 

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