Brewer teenager rallies support for proposed school budget, mil rate could rise 8 percent

People in the Brewer community are coming together in support of the school department's proposed budget. Many are calling it a "budget crisis"

BREWER, MAINE (NEWS CENTER) - There is uncertainty surrounding education funding in Brewer, as the school department faces what some people are calling a "budget crisis."

Wednesday night the city council had a first reading of the proposed school budget, which drew a big crowd. It was a crowd so large that people had to stand in the hallways to listen in on the meeting.

After the Superintendent and City Manager both gave budget presentations to city council, many people spoke in support of the school department's request for nearly $1 million in additional funding from the city.

Among those fighting for the school department's proposed budget is teenager, Jacob Cote.

"We need to educate people on where this money is going, why it needs to go there, and what this means for the future," Cote said, "because this needs to happen."

School officials say they would have to cut more than a dozen co-curriculars, athletics, and other programs.

Cote is a junior at Brewer High School, who says he was a shy teenager until co-curriculars like student council and robotics helped him come out of his shell. Now Cote is the student representative for the school committee. It's a role in which Cote is known to be outspoken in about his support of the school budget, garnering him praise from his peers and community members alike.

There were some at the meeting who were concerned about their taxes going up, if the proposed school budget is passed.

"You may not have kids in school now or not anymore, but as the saying goes, it takes a village,"  Cote said.

Brewer City Manager, Stephen Bost, told attendees that the city's mil rate would increase by $1.77 -- or 8.25 percent -- under the proposed budget. This would require the average homeowner to pay an additional $266 in yearly taxes.

"We have respected the Council's long-standing position that budget discussions begin with the premise that there be no tax increase," Bost said.

Bost added that this year "discussions between the city and the school department broke down almost immediately and concluded with no adjustments from the school departments."

According to Bost, City Council told school officials that it was "willing to consider raising $500,000 in revenue" as opposed to the $1 million that the school department is currently asking for.

City Council will vote on the budget on June 6.

 

 

 

 

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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