April 13, 2023

Budget Newsletter

It is budget season in the Town of Scarborough, and we want you to be a part of it. The proposed Fiscal Year 2024 municipal budget is outlined in a 392-page document, but we'll show you a few of the highlights here, along with resources to keep you involved. There are several ways to participate in the shaping of our town budget, from tuning into meetings to joining a Budget Roundtable discussion and emailing the Town Council. Be sure to follow along over the next couple of months as it continues to take shape.

We respect the responsibility that residents have placed with the Town Council and staff to be the stewards of your tax dollars and deliver high-quality public services. Read on for an insight into the process, budget details, and how to stay engaged over the next few months.


Budget Starting Point, Drivers, & Process

Getting Started

Our Town Charter grants the Town Manager authority to initiate the budget process. on Wednesday, March 29, Town Manager Tom Hall and Superintendent Geoff Bruno presented the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 budget to the Town Council. This was the first time the Town Council viewed the budget, which was put together over months of preparation with individual town departments, Scarborough Schools, and the Board of Education.


The presentation is a snapshot overview of the proposed budget. Click Here to view the full budget document, which gives a high-level summary followed by the detailed line items by department. Both can be found on Budget page of our website.

Major Budget Drivers: Economic Realities

The costs in the FY2024 proposed budget are largely driven by the economic realities being faced in our community and beyond:


The budget was developed during a period of inflation that has not been seen in over four decades, and the same impacts experienced in our households are also felt in our municipal operational expenses.

→In the budget:

  • Increases in the cost of utilities, electricity, vehicle fuel, and supplies and parts that are a necessary component of town operations.
  • Staff wages are also highly correlated to inflationary forces. Municipal wages are dictated by a Bureau of Labor Standards metric and are presented in the budget as a cost of living adjustment between 4% and 4.7% for Town employees.

Competitive Job Market

A competitive job market is straining the ability to attract staff to fill vacancies for our essential services as easily as in past years. This limitation has caused an increasing reliance on existing staff, now working longer hours to meet the needs of our town.

→In the budget:

  • Two (2) additional law enforcement officer positions to support the increased demand for service.
  • Staffing challenges are further exacerbated within the Fire Department by a rapid decline in part-time staff and a change in operational deployment. The FY2024 budget proposes to hire four (4) additional full-time firefighters. 

Increased Demand for Social Services

Over the course of the last year, the Town of Scarborough has seen an increase in the need for social services. Our general assistance program sees more clients seeking aid for housing, food, and other public assistance.

→In the budget:

  • Expansion of the general assistance budget to support the growing demand.
  • Hire a full-time Social Services Coordinator to support Social Services Navigator and become the primary role of General Assistance administration.

Changing Housing Market

The Town’s residential and commercial property valuations are very likely lagging behind their true market value.

→In the budget:

  • As proposed and subsequently deferred in the FY23 budget, the Town will be undertaking a full in-house property revaluation in 2024 (see more below).

Coming Up: Finance Committee Reviews

After first reading, the Finance Committee will complete a comprehensive, department-by-department review of the proposed budget throughout the months of April and May. Community engagement is highly encouraged at our committee meetings.

April 12, 5-8pm: Discuss Budget Process & Review Schedule (View Here)

April 26, 5-8pm: Review Public Services (Library, Community Services, SEDCO), Public Works, and General Government (Executive Government, Town HR, Welfare, Finance, Collections, Assessing, Planning, Engineering, Information Systems)

May 4, 3:30-5:30pm: Review School Department

May 24, 5-8pm: Review Public Safety (Police, Fire, Dispatch), Capital Equipment & Projects

May 31, 5-8pm: Make Final Budget Adjustments

Dates are subject to change. Links to participate in Finance Committee Budget Review meetings are available on the Town Calendar a few days prior to each event.

Town Council Budget Meetings

  • Wednesday, May 3: Joint Town Council/School Board audit presentation/budget workshop and first reading
  • Wednesday, May 17: Town Council public hearing
  • Wednesday, June 7: Town Council second reading
  • Thursday, June 27: Proposed for School budget validation vote

Election Day is June 27, 2023

Election Day is Tuesday, June 27, 2023 and includes the School Budget Validation Referendum Election and the Special Municipal Election for the Portland Water District to fill a vacancy to expire in 2023. Voting will be held at the Scarborough High School, located at 11 Municipal Drive on Election Day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.


Absentee Ballots

Request your absentee ballots early for one to be sent to you. Use this online form or stop into the Clerk's office at Town Hall. Ballots will be mailed to you when they become available. All absentee ballots must be received no later than 8:00 p.m. EDT on Election Day.


For further information on Absentee Voting and Voter Registration, please contact the Scarborough Town Clerk's Office at 730‑4020.

April 24: Budget Roundtable Discussion

The Finance Committee relies on sentiment from the full Council to guide their work. We also invite and encourage resident participation by attending meetings and an upcoming Budget Roundtable discussion. The first was held yesterday evening. Please join us for the next budget roundtable on Monday, April 24, 5:00-7:00pm (In-Person at Scarborough Public Library or via Zoom).

You can also give feedback to the Council anytime at [email protected].

Featured Budget Projects

The budget looks beyond daily operations with a commitment to maintaining the sustainability of Scarborough—continuing to support our citizens’ quality of life for years to come with strategic capital investments. The FY2024 budget proposes a number of forward-thinking initiatives in its capital planning budget, in line with core goals outlined by the Town Council at the start of the year.

Sustainability, Conservation, & Climate Change

Red Brook Watershed Management

Red Brook stretches from Route 22 (County Rd) to the Payne Rd area shopping district and into South Portland. It is listed as an Urban Impaired Stream by Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). In 2022, the new Federal Stormwater NPDES Permit was issued to the Town of Scarborough to allow the continued discharge of stormwater. With this permit, the Town is required to amend the 2011 Red Brook Watershed Management Plan. This amended plan will identify projects and initiatives to undertake within the watershed to improve the stream’s water quality. (Pg 39)

See more on the Red Brook Watershed on our website within the Engineering department.

Sawyer Street/Spurwink Marsh Restoration Study

Sawyer Street is a town road that crosses Spurwink Marsh and is shared with Cape Elizabeth. This road frequently floods during astronomical high tides and storm events. In 2018, Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth undertook a study to understand what upgrades are needed to maintain a usable road given various sea level rise scenarios. The outcome indicated the road would need to be significantly raised and would cost several million dollars. Given the investments needed to upgrade other critical infrastructure in both municipalities, Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth wish to explore road removal. This CIP will match a $300,000 grant proposal to support restoration of the Spurwink Marsh and study removal of Sawyer Street where it crosses the Marsh. It is a joint effort with the Town of Cape Elizabeth. (Pg 39)

Sawyer Road Crossing Overtopping During High Tide, March 2018 (Photo Credit: Town of Cape Elizabeth)

Catch Basin Truck Replacement

The new Catch Basin Truck will replace a 2003 Camel Model 200, 10-yard capacity Catch Basin Truck. The recommended replacement schedule for a municipality catch basin truck is generally 10 years, and we just completed our 20th year of usage for our current unit. The Town of Scarborough has 2,880 catch basins, and we are required to clean all of them at least every other year, and those in high traffic areas are to be cleaned annually in order for the Town to remain compliant with our MS4 permitting with the DEP. While the primary usage of the catch basin truck is to clean the catch basins, it also has a number of secondary uses important to our operations. (Pg 43)

Traffic & Transportation

Spurwink Road Improvements (Phase 2)

Spurwink Road will be improved in two phases. Phase I, Ocean Avenue to Pleasant Hill Road, was approved in the FY23 Capital project and will begin this year. Phase II dovetails with the Phase I project and will complete the project. It will begin at the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and extend approximately 1.4 miles to the Cape Elizabeth town line. The primary goals are to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety, improve climate change resiliency in areas prone to sea level rise, fix/improve drainage issues, and re-pave Spurwink Road. (Pg 44)

Payne Road Traffic Signal Upgrades

An Adaptive Traffic Signal system would be installed along Payne Road from the intersection of Gorham Road to the South Portland town line. The project would utilize traffic impact and mitigation fees from developers that are designated for offsite improvement projects. (Pg 40)

Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) System Upgrade

Joe Thornton explains how the CAD core system is used in the Scarborough 9-1-1 dispatch center.

Scarborough Public Safety relies not only on a dedicated staff, but also on a robust software system to run effectively behind the scenes. One of those is a system for Computer Aided Dispatch, or CAD. The CAD system is used by dispatchers, call-takers, and 911 operators to prioritize and record incident calls, identify the status and location of responders in the field, and effectively dispatch responder personnel.

Last year, the Town of Scarborough was informed that the current CAD system vendor would no longer be providing developments in 2024. This level of support is essential for our database and overall functionality. We depend on continued support and buildout from the vendor—the technology is ever-evolving, as are public safety procedures. With this news, we became concerned with the overall long-term sustainability of the core system and knew it needed to be upgraded.

Members of Dispatch, Police, Fire and EMS met continuously last year with our IT department to come up with a solution. We narrowed our functional requirements, researched potential new systems and vendors, viewed demos, and conducted site visits. The new system will provide significant improvement in the public safety team’s operations. It makes it easier to collaborate between units, departments and jurisdictions, and we can use stored data to improve procedures and overall safety in the community. (Pg 41)


Expanding Social Services to Meet Community Need

Our community is experiencing an increased demand for assistance. The General Assistance program sees more clients seeking aid for housing, food, and other public assistance. This need is being felt not only in our community, but statewide and beyond. It is largely correlated to the effects of inflation, the end of the Emergency Rental Assistance program (ERA), and lack of affordable housing. Maine is also experiencing a consistent resettlement of new Mainers seeking general assistance.

From a fiscal standpoint, the Town of Scarborough has historically had relatively nominal annual GA expenses. The program was administered by a part-time employee for twelve years until their resignation in June 2022. The Town shifted the model to a contract with The Opportunity Alliance in September 2022. However, with the increasing client demands, it is no longer feasible to fill this need on a part-time basis.

The Town intends to expand its social services with a new position and migrate all resources and programs to be under the direction of the Social Services Navigator. In its FY2024 budget, the Town proposes to hire a full-time Social Services Coordinator. The position would support our Social Services Navigator and be the primary role of Scarborough General Assistance administration. (Pg 52)

Lauren Dembski-Martin is our Social Services Navigator.


In-House Townwide Property Revaluation

A Revaluation is the process of updating all property values in town to reflect their current market value (i.e., to maintain reasonable estimates of what each property could sell for on the open market). The last revaluation was performed by independent contractor, KRT Appraisal in 2019. Post-revaluation public workshops conducted by Town Leadership and Assessing regarding how the revaluation process could be improved upon produced two meaningful outcomes: 

1) Conduct regularly scheduled revaluations, occurring every few years, to ensure that the property tax burden is spread equitably across all taxpayers.

2) Use in-house Assessing staff, rather than an independent contractor, since Assessing has a “Scarborough-specific” base of knowledge of Town properties and real estate market. In addition to being able to provide a higher level of customer service throughout the process, using Assessing staff will reduce the cost (estimated to be $44,000, as compared to $391,000 for the 2018/2019 revaluation performed by KRT Appraisal). 

The town-wide revaluation project was originally planned for April 1, 2023, but was deferred to April 1, 2024 by recommendation of the Town’s Assessor, as highlighted in last year’s FY23 Budget (Exhibit #3). The Assessor recommends performing the revaluation in 2024 as outlined by a graphic timeline and description of related costs in this year’s FY24 Budget (Pg 72, Exhibit #7). If Town Leadership proceeds with the Assessor’s recommendation, residents can expect additional details to follow later in 2023. The Town will ensure that Scarborough Taxpayers are appropriately educated and informed of the process, methods, and timeframe. (Pg 72)


To jump to a specific section, go to the Table of Contents and click on a line to jump to that page. Additionally, click the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner of the page and select the "Find" feature to search by keywords. The first part of the document is the municipal budget and exhibits, then the School budget and enrollment study.

Scarborough School Budget

A Message from Superintendent Geoff Bruno

State of Maine GPA Reduces Budget Increase

On Tuesday, March 28th, less than 24 hours prior to the joint town and school presentation to the Town Council, the Department of Education sent out updated General Purpose Aid (GPA) amounts to all School Administrative Units across the state of Maine. For Scarborough, this correction meant an approximate increase of $1.5 million in state subsidy. As a result of this, as well as some additional reductions we were able to make from health insurance costs coming in lower than budgeted, our Education Net Budget increase has been reduced from 7.28% at first reading to 3.56% at second reading, currently scheduled for May 4th. 

Building Resiliency & Strategic Goals

For the first time since Fall 2019, our faculty and staff were able to prepare for this school year as fully present educators, ready and eager to develop our students' academic skills, character, and future development as life-long learners. The Scarborough Schools community will continue to develop the unique abilities and interests of all our students through continued focus on our strategic plan and Board of Education goals. This includes: 

  • Ensuring inclusive connection among all our students and families.
  • Building a strong academic foundation at all phase levels. 
  • Meeting the individual learning needs of all students through embedding an effective network of student supports (RTI). 
  • Strengthening social emotional learning through all developmental stages by implementing aligned curricula, meeting the social and emotional needs of our students in proactive ways, responding to those in crisis, and recognizing the importance of social and emotional health to overall well-being and success in school.
  • Continuing to collaborate with town leadership and town council to meet our facilities needs through the K-8 strategic project and new primary school.

Facilities Needs

Here is an excerpt from a letter about our facilities needs, particularly with our youngest learners (also in the executive summary of the FY24 School budget posted on the school website):

“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.  

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 website 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.”

Fiscally Responsible Budget Proposal

Our Leadership Council meets regularly, starting in December, to put together a fiscally responsible budget proposal with the positions and programs necessary to provide improved instructional support, strengthen student learning, and enhance social emotional learning and support to foster whole-child wellness. With respect to expenditures for next fiscal year, we are projecting a total net expenditure increase of 3.56% that includes new position and programming requests, maintaining current staffing & services, meeting contractual staff compensation obligations, addressing projected insurance cost increases, and operating effectively given our projected enrollment. 

I encourage the public to head to our website and find our proposed FY24 budget documents that will outline our priorities and specific requests needed to best educate all our students in Scarborough. We have diligently weighed building and district-wide priorities to craft a budget that puts the needs of our students, faculty, and community first, respects the fiscal challenges we continue to face responsibly, and invests in the resources necessary to continuously improve learning for all. We look forward to the Board of Education’s review and ask for the community’s support.

Geoff Bruno

Superintendent of Schools


The School Budget Validation Referendum Election will be held on Tuesday, June 27. Vote in-person at the High School or request your absentee ballot. Details here.

Follow Along & Stay Connected

The municipal budget process is just getting started and there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved. Here are some of the ways you can stay connected to the process this Spring:

Town E-Newsletter: Sign up to receive our twice monthly email newsletter for

ongoing updates.

Website: Visit the budget materials made accessible from our website homepage.

Attend Public Meetings: All accessible virtually; find links on the website Town


Attend a Budget Roundtable: Your Town Councilors and School Board members want to hear from you. Join on April 24 to learn more and share your thoughts.

Share Your Feedback: Email the Town Council at [email protected] to express your questions or concerns.


Stay Connected

Community Links

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