BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor School Department’s proposed 2013 overall budget has gone from a 0.54 percent increase over last year to a 0.34 percent decrease, thanks to more cuts school officials were able to make.

The total proposed budget figure goes from $41,606,064 to $41,238,725.

That’s the good news for Bangor residents. The bad news is the budget still represents an overall 1.86 percent increase in the amount Bangor taxpayers will have to fund.

The increase — $391,616 — results primarily from decreases in both federal and state funding. The original proposed budget’s local taxpayers’ share was $946,794, meaning school officials have trimmed that total taxpayer increase from 4.5 to 1.9 percent.

“That’s about 15 cents per person on the mill rate,” said Alan Kochis, Bangor School Department business office director. “This budget is actually $200,000 less than our 2009 budget.”

The cuts came through the use of an additional $250,000 from the department’s undesignated fund balance, a lowered estimate on health insurance ($140,239 less), and a $27,000 cut in the United Technologies Center budget for vocational education.

Kochis said another big help was the $2.8 million federal Qualified School Construction Bond approved by the City Council that allows the department to trim $200,000 in minor capital improvements from the budget.

“This allows us to get a whole bunch of projects done over the next two years that would normally take about six budget cycles to do,” Kochis said.
“And with the other new cuts, we’re now a negative budget without impacting our programs.”

Bangor Councilor Cary Weston was encouraged by the latest budget news, but still struck a cautious note.

“It’s encouraging to see the school department and superintendent whittle down their budget to find all possible savings and priorities,” Weston said.
“Though the budget shows a minimal change from last year to this year due to funding differences, it’s still asking for $400,000 new dollars from Bangor taxpayers.

“We’ll continue to look at all areas before approving any budgets as there are major shortages and fiscal challenges throughout the city.”

The proposed budget will be initially presented to the Bangor Council on Monday, April 11. The final budget will be presented for approval on Wednesday, May 9.