Supplemental state budget includes $6.2M for Portland schools

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City Councilors will decide whether to approve an additional $6.2 million in state education funding that would reduce Portland’s property tax rate by 1 percent and nullify the budget increase approved by voters in June. 

The funding, approved unanimously by the School Board on July 6, is part of the $187 million supplemental spending package proposed by Gov. Janet Mills and approved by the Legislature on June 30.

If approved at the city level, the money will go toward custodians’ salaries and creating a debt service relief fund.

According to School Department spokesperson Tess Nacelewicz, $1.49 million will go to tax relief, allowing a 0 percent tax increase this year in Portland’s combined city and school budgets.

Additionally, $1.3 million of the money will cover the cost of custodial staff in the operating budget, which is currently being covered by federal coronavirus relief funds. That funding is temporary and would have left a budget gap when it runs out.

The remaining $3.41 million would create a debt service relief fund to be used annually to offset increases in the budget driven by renovations to Lyseth, Longfellow, Presumpscot, and Reiche schools. 

City councilors are expected to consider the adjustment on Monday, July 19.