Spring is right around the corner, which at the Town brings with it budget season (late March to early June) and an anticipation for summer programs, seasonal hiring, and more. There are some upcoming deadlines for property tax payments and tax assistance programs for those who are eligible, so be sure to add these to your Spring "to-do" list. Read on to learn more, and find out about other program and event dates coming up.
Sign up for some fun this Spring! Take a look at the many programs offered in the Community Services Spring Brochure. Print copies are available at the Scarborough Public Library and Community Services Hub (418 Payne Road).
Tonight: Town Council Meeting
There is a Town Council meeting this evening, Wednesday March 1 at 7:00pm. There will be a review of Food Handlers License requests, proposed amendments to parking restrictions in the Traffic Ordinance, proposed amendments to the Zoning map, and action on the request to formally accept the Parks and Facilities Master Plan (learn more about the master plan).
Click Here to view the agenda and access the Zoom link.
Join us for Council Corner LIVE, a two-way conversation and a chance for you to get to know your councilors and talk with them candidly about hot topic issues in town. The topic is the Town's Growth Management Ordinance and its ongoing revision process. Share your thoughts on the ordinance and learn more about the background that has led to this new round of revisions. Council Corner Live is an opportune time for councilors to hear from constituents in a less formal setting than a public meeting. Learn more of the background on our website.
Council Corner Live started exactly one year ago, in March 2022! This new format for engaging with councilors was formed in response to community feedback on the desire for increased communication on important topics affecting Scarborough. Thank you to all who have participated.
March 4: Passport Day—No Appointment Needed!
Saturday, March 4
9:00am-3:00pm, Community Services Hub
Do you have upcoming travel plans that will take you outside of the United States? Wherever you go, a passport will get you home! Community Services is hosting a Passport Acceptance Day to assist individuals and families with the acceptance of U.S. passport applications.
No appointment is needed for this event. We will have all necessary forms available for your convenience, but we highly recommend checking all requirements and fees prior to the event by visiting Travel.State.Gov or calling us at 207-730-4150 with any questions.
The second half of your property tax bill is due on March 15. Payments can be made in-person at Town Hall or online. If you have a billing or payment question, please contact our Tax Collections department at (207) 730-4010. (How was the tax rate determined? Click Here to learn more).
The Assessing Department is responsible for the annual valuation of all property in the Town of Scarborough. They also oversee property tax relief programs and exemptions for eligible individuals and properties. Most programs are administered through the State, while others are applied at the local level. Below is an overview of some tax assistance programs you may be eligible for and some application deadline reminders.
All applications, unless otherwise stated, must be filed on or before April 1st. Please check the application for the appropriate deadline date. All applications are available online (Visit our Tax Relief page) or in the Assessing office, located on the lower level of Town Hall (come through the back entrance of Town Hall). Please contact their office at (207) 730-4063 if you have any questions.
Homestead Exemption: For residents who have owned their primary residence in Maine for 12 months with no break in ownership. Learn more.
Veteran Exemptions: For Veterans or the Surviving Spouse, Minor Child, or Widowed Parent of a Veteran. The Veteran must either be age 62 or older, or receive 100% disability from the VA, or paraplegic. By State guidelines, only Veterans who served during a recognized war period are eligible for this Exemption. Learn more.
Paraplegic Veteran: For veterans who received a federal grant for a specially adapted housing unit.
Blind Persons Exemption: For residents determined to be legally blind. Learn more.
Renewable Energy Equipment Exemption: Provides exemption for Solar Panel equipment. Learn more.
Applications must be submitted to our Assessing office by April 1, 2023.
How to Submit an Application
1) In person at our Town Office
The Assessing office is located on the lower level of Town Hall (come through the back entrance of Town Hall).
2) Outdoor drop box
The drop box is located to the right of the front Town Hall entrance.
3) Scanned and emailed
Scan and and send your application via email. The scanned document must contain a pen and ink signature (wet signature); we cannot accept a typed or electronic signature.
Mail your application to the following address:
Town of Scarborough
P.O. Box 360
Scarborough, ME 04070
ATTN: Assessing Department
Property Tax Assistance Program for Owners and Renters
October 16, 2023 Deadline
The Town of Scarborough offers its own property tax relief through a Property Tax Assistance Program for eligible seniors in Scarborough who own a home or pay rent. If your annual property tax burden exceeds 5% of household Adjusted Gross Income, then you may be eligible for a direct rebate check of up to $750 at the end of the year. For residents who rent, we consider your rent as part of your tax burden.
Applications for owners and renters are currently available and the application deadline is October 16, 2023. Note: We have mailed applications to last year’s applicants.
The three eligibility requirements are:
Applicant is age 62 or older as of the application deadline
Applicant has been a Town resident for at least 10 years as of October 16, 2023
Applicant’s household Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is not more than $50,000
When you submit your application, we will need to see identification and proof of income, either your 2022 Tax Return or your 2022 year-end Social Security Benefit Statement if you don’t file taxes. If you rent, we will need to see a statement of rent paid between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023, along with the date your lease commenced.
Property Tax Stabilization for Senior Citizens – LD290
Deadline To Be Announced
In 2022, the Maine legislature enacted the Property Tax Stabilization for Senior Citizens, also known as the Property Tax Stabilization Program (Title 36, M.R.S.A. Chapter 908-B); the law allows eligible senior citizen residents to stabilize, or freeze, the property taxes on their homestead. The filing deadline for stabilization was December 1, 2022. If you submitted your initial application by the December 1 deadline, and have not heard from us, it has been accepted locally and you will only hear from us if the State has any questions. Please note that we have not received guidance from the State regarding the 2023 application/reapplication process; once the State releases the 2023 guidelines to municipalities, we will widely publicize them via our online newsletter, website, and The Scarborough Leader.
Property Tax Deferral Program April 1, 2023 Deadline
In 2021, the Maine legislature reinstated the Property Tax Deferral Program (Title 36, M.R.S.A. Section 908) to help seniors and the fully disabled stay in their homes and age in place. For qualified and approved applicants, the State of Maine will pay the property taxes each year. The state will place a lien on the property and all deferred taxes (and accrued interest) are repaid to the state when the property is sold or the applicant passes away. To qualify:
An owner of the property must be 65 years of age or have a permanent disability that prevents an individual from being employed.
An applicant or applicants must be the deeded owner and must be receiving a Homestead Exemption.
Applicants must have an income of less than $40,000 and liquid assets of less than $50,000 ($75,000 if a joint application).
The property must have NO municipal liens for unpaid property taxes filed against it at the time of application.
Applications must be filed with the Assessor’s Office between January 1 and April 1 each year. Applications are forwarded to Maine Revenue Services who review the application and make the determination for acceptance and approval.
Questions on this State Managed Program can be referred to Maine Revenue Services, Property Tax Division, at (207) 624-5600 or email@example.com.
Special Election for the Portland Water District Trustee
There will be a Special Election for the Portland Water Trustee Board representing the Town of Scarborough. Nomination papers are available in the Town Clerk’s Office from March 1st to April 5th. This vacancy is due to the resignation of Seth Garrison with a term that expires in November 2023. The Special Election will be held on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. For more information, please contact the Town Clerk’s Office at 207-730-4020.
No Roads Posted this Spring
Normally in the early spring each year, we “post” a number of roads in Scarborough. These postings restrict the traffic of any vehicles weighing over 23,000 lbs. from traveling on these roads during the duration of the road posting(s). However, the decision has been made that roads will not need to be posted in the spring of 2023. The purpose of this restriction typically is to prevent as much damage as possible to the roadways while they are thawing and in a vulnerable state. As the season shifts toward spring, and the temperatures rise, the melting snow and ice saturates the ground under the roads, and this weakens the base that the asphalt is laid upon. This weakened base cannot support the stress of heavy loads, and can result in costly and avoidable road damage. Roads are not being posted this spring because the ground did not freeze or remain frozen for any considerable period of time this year.
Town Council Approves Adjusted Pier Fee Structure
The Town of Scarborough made recent amendments to Chapter 311, the Schedule of Fees related to moorings, pier use, and boat launch at the Pine Point pier. The proposed increases were adopted by the Town Council during a second reading at their February 15, 2023 meeting.
The fee changes were recommended to the Council after the Coastal Waters and Harbor Advisory Committee conducted a full review of all of the coastal waters fees for this area in 2022.
The committee reviews fees periodically and made adjustments in 2004 as well as in 2017; however, it had been several years since a full review of coastal waters fees was done. The committee not only looked at fee changes over time, but also took a broader approach by comparing them to coastal communities statewide, and considered the capital needs for sustainable future planning.
The new fee structure brings Scarborough into a range more in line with other Maine municipalities, while also generating the revenue to cover ongoing maintenance. The committee determined that the current fee structures are very nominal for the services provided, and significantly less than those in surrounding communities. Unlike several seasonally operated communities, the Scarborough pier is open and used commercially 365 days per year. Year-round use naturally leads to wear and tear at a faster rate than other communities may face.
The committee is starting to do future planning for a replacement schedule on aging components. Maintenance and infrastructure updates are needed on the waterfront infrastructure: the pier was last replaced in 2011 and the pedestrian walkway needs upgrades. It is essential for the commercial pier to have the proper up-to-date hoist and equipment for viable daily operations of our working waterfront. The hoists used by the commercial fishermen could be replaced with more modern and user friendly equipment, and the floats on the boat ramps are getting worn and battered. The committee recognizes that an overall replacement of existing infrastructure will need to be planned for in the future. Additionally, predicting future expenditures will need to take into consideration the rising costs to make these repairs and upgrades.
The pier is open for recreational public use and the commercial fishing industry. It is also used by charter fishermen and for recreational boating. All user groups are made up of both residents and non-residents. The fee structure increases would allow for upgrades that benefit all who use the pier and boat launch. Without this change to the fee structure, the costs of infrastructure upgrades would be put on taxpayers. Increasing the fees creates a revenue stream for future infrastructure planning, aligns Scarborough with other Maine communities, and benefits all users.
Municipal Budget Season Ahead
Each year, the Town of Scarborough undergoes a budget review process from late March to June. Our Town Manager will present the first Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) budget proposal to Town Council on Wednesday, March 29 as part of the regular Town Council meeting. The public is welcome to watch the Town Manager present the proposed municipal budget at this time. This is also when the School Superintendent presents the school budget. All municipal budget materials and resources will be made available on our website directly from the homepage (Budget button). We welcome you to stay informed on your municipal budget this Spring.
Talking Traffic: What is an Alternate Merge?
An alternate merge is when a two-lane road becomes one lane, and vehicles take turns merging into the single lane like a zipper. The State of Maine implemented Alternate Merges on our roadways in 2019 after a decade of positive results in other areas of the country.
How to Use an Alternate Merge:
1. Watch for signs that will alert you that a merge is ahead.
2. While using both lanes, all drivers should stay in their lane until the merge point. Resist the urge to merge early.
3. At the merge point, take turns slowly and smoothly merging into the right lane. Each car in the right lane should allow one car to merge in front of them, creating a zipper effect.
Benefits of an Alternate Merge:
• Reduces differences in speeds between two lanes. Changing lanes when traffic is the same speed is easier and safer.
• Can reduce the overall length of a traffic backup by as much as 40%.
• Eases congestion by fully using both lanes for as long as possible.
• Drivers have a sense of fairness and equity, since all lanes are moving at the same rate and everyone knows when it’s their turn to go – which leads to reduced incidents of road rage.
'Talking Traffic' is a new segment brought to you by the Scarborough transportation committee. They'll answer commonly asked questions and highlight upcoming projects that are mitigating the effects of traffic and making Scarborough roads safer.
Town Staff Talk Climate Change in a Podcast
Let's Connect is a weekly podcast produced by the Greater Portland Council of Governments and WMPG that focuses on how cities and towns in Greater Portland are overcoming challenges in their communities. They discuss issues like housing, transportation, climate change, and economic development.
Scarborough Town Manager Tom Hall and Scarborough Sustainability Coordinator Jami Fitch joined a recent episode about the December 23 winter storm and what it can teach us about Maine's changing climate. Along with GPCOG's Director of Sustainability Sara Mills-Knapp, they discuss the impacts of the climate crisis and what Scarborough can do to bolster its resiliency to extreme weather.
Scarborough Community Services has partnered with Wildlife Encounters Ecology & Wellness Center to present live animal shows in celebration of World Wildlife Day! The word “Ninja” conjures up strength, perseverance, and the ability to move quickly and quietly under the cover of darkness. But did you know there are real-life ninjas in the wild? Come to a live animal show at the Hub to learn all about creatures with special talents that help them avoid, scare, and confuse predators. Wildlife Encounters and Ecology Center will present 6-7 animals, including mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and invertebrates.
Park Hop Egg Hunt
March 6 through March 30
The Easter Bunny visited Scarborough and hopped all over town, but OH NO! There was a hole in the basket and eggs dropped everywhere! The recent snowfall was so heavy that it covered all the eggs, making them virtually impossible to spot. Now we eagerly wait for the snow to melt to begin our search...
Keep an eye on the Scarborough Community Services website and Facebook page next week for a coloring page map to retrace the Bunny's tracks and help find the eggs. Once you've drawn the design seen on each egg, drop it off at the SCS Hub or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered into an EGGCITING drawing! Deadline for submissions is March 30.
Join us in the Wentworth Cafeteria for a yummy breakfast with our favorite special guest... The Easter Bunny! The menu includes pancakes, sausage, hash browns, and fruit, along with all of the fixings. Don’t forget to bring your camera for a photo op with the Bunny! Registration is required for breakfast.
Senior Meals to Go at the Hub
Scarborough Community Services and Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA) offer a Meals to Go program for ages 60 or older. Get 3 pre-cooked freezer meals for a suggested donation of only $10. Upcoming dates:
Thursday, March 9
Thursday, April 13
Thursday, May 11
Pickup will be at the Community Services Hub on 418 Payne Rd from 12:30-1:30pm. To register, please call (207) 730-4173.
We need a new unified K-3 School and we need your help! For over a year now, the project’s building committee, composed of community members, parents, district & school leaders, faculty & staff, has been meeting twice per month to evaluate fiscally responsible options, plan a design supporting our educational vision, and identify a site for a new unified primary school. The building website outlines the history of work completed, and is designed to educate community members to build momentum for a referendum vote, targeted for November 2023. We continue to receive valuable feedback and ideas from staff, families, and the community through community dialogues, staff forums, and building subcommittee work.
In addition to community engagement events, the town and school leadership continue to collaborate, holding multiple public workshops outlining the need, the plan, and the process for securing a site for a unified K-3 school.
Roughly 30% of our current student population learns in temporary portable classrooms, some of which have been in use for 20 years or more. This equates to 30 classroom portables in use to teach our K-2 students and the entire sixth grade. Simply put, the current primary schools and middle school do not support the needs of our students or our staff. Our K-8 strategic plan addresses the needs of our current students, plus considers the expected increase in the number of students as Scarborough continues to grow and attract new residents as the third highest ranked school district in the state of Maine!
I encourage you to visit the Scarborough Schools homepage, and click on the building project button at the top. This will lead you directly to a webpage with comprehensive information on the project. We have such dedicated and engaged learners, families, and staff who deserve facilities that support our work to empower our kids to develop as learners and citizens. Again, thank you for supporting our schools.
Council Corner: Overcrowded Schools Need Attention
By Jean-Marie Caterina, Town Council
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Scarborough Town Council.
In 2009, my daughter graduated from Scarborough High having come up through Eight Corners, Wentworth, the middle school, and the high school. Throughout her tenure there were portables throughout the system and a failing Wentworth building. Wentworth was finally replaced when it became dangerous to teach children in that building. Yet here we are 14 years later. Not much else has changed. We keep on building portables. We keep on delaying the inevitable.
Since my first election to Council in 2013, there has been planning and studies addressing our elementary level deficiencies. In October 2017, a thorough study was done to determine if the neighborhood schools could be updated and expanded. It concluded that the cost and disruption were prohibitive. It was determined that a consolidated school might be the best fit.
Fast forward to 2023. In the aftermath of a recall of the most experienced members of the School Board, turnover of the Superintendent position, and COVID interruptions, Scarborough has been in a stall regarding the future of school facilities in this town. We are now hearing from the School Board that they have determined that a consolidated school for grades K to 3 will help to solve for the overcrowded and inferior condition elementary schools as well as the middle school overcrowding through shifting 6th grade to Wentworth. Duplication of staffing, resources, and overhead will be eliminated. Bussing students will be simplified. Our children will have the benefit of safe and healthy environments in which to learn at all levels. This is a worthy pursuit.
As with all matters affecting the taxpayers of Scarborough, the devil is in the details. Personally, I look forward to updated data regarding why it makes no sense to stay with the smaller schools, why a consolidated school will serve the children of the town for years to come, and what the school enrollment projections are, given the development of more diverse housing options for families. I look forward to learning that we have secured land for this project and can confidently project costs. I need to see the numbers and the data.
To ignore the fact that our elementary school facilities are deficient and will be replaced is foolhardy. That fact will not change. The longer the delay, the greater the cost. I prefer to make the decision now before it becomes an emergency. Now is the time to work together as a town to put forward a sensible and well thought out plan to educate our children. We can do no less for them. I encourage you to join me in learning more about this important project.
Jonathan Anderson, Chair • Jean-Marie Caterina • John Cloutier • Don Hamill • Nick McGee • Karin Shupe • April Sither
Town Council meets the first and third Wednesday of each month. Visit our Town Calendar for links to attend and view agendas.
Scarborough Public Library News
Computer & Internet Safety
With the USM Cybersecurity Ambassadors
Friday, March 3, 10:00am
The Ambassadors will be talking about phishing, identity protection, social media safety, and home cyber security. This is part of the Age-Friendly Scarborough Speaker Series.
Two Upcoming Film Screenings
March 6, 1:30pm: Movie Matinee – The Fabelmans
Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth. Rated PG-13; 2 hours and 31 minutes. Seating will be limited and registration is required.
March 22, 5:30pm: Cult Classic Movie Night – Labyrinth
Why is this film a Cult Classic? It's a creepy coming-of-age story with David Bowie and puppets that flopped at the box office but has come into its own as a beloved favorite film to many. Rated PG; 1 hour 41 minutes. Seating will be limited and registration is required.
The Many Faces of Grief
With Kelly Blanchette, CT, CCLS, Bereavement Services Manager
Tuesday, March 14, 6:00pm
Join Hospice of Maine and the Scarborough Library for a presentation on the many faces of grief as we explore what grief is, when it can happen, and the many ways it affects us. We will talk about the entire spectrum of grief, from anticipatory grief experienced prior to a loss, to the ways we struggle when we experience loss. Grief is natural, normal, and happens to everyone and we will learn how to recognize grief in ourselves and in others. Kelly will provide helpful resources to all attendees.
This is a hybrid event, both in person and online. Registration required.
Youth Services offers weekly recurring programs and activities like Preschool Learning & Discovery Time, Mind Readers: A Middle School Book Club, Rhythm & Rhyme (for babies and toddlers), Lego Block Party and more. View a complete listing and details on their website.