Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell unveiled Wednesday night, April 25, a nearly $13.8 million municipal budget for 2018-2019 that shows virtually no increase from the current budget.

The proposed 0.2 percent increase ($33,314) in spending is being achieved, in part, by not filling two vacancies — one in the police department and one in public services.

"We have managed to deliver a fiscally responsible budget, despite the loss of 3 percent in non-property tax revenue," Luttrell stated in his annual budget message delivered April 25 to the City Council.

The loss of revenue is largely because of the closure of the landfill, which had been used to generate revenues from out-of-town demolition debris.

The manager said the city is trying to balance the need to borrow money for municipal improvement projects with keeping spending in check.

"If all goes according to plan, we should be able to start bond work during Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020)," Luttrell stated.

Voters approved bond referendums in November 2016 for road paving, repairs to the library building, and to implement a fiber-optic network in the city. The City Council promised at that time that money would not be borrowed until older borrowing was paid.

The budget does not reflect raises for employees, as contract negotiations with labor unions are ongoing.

Overall, the manager projects the tax rate will reach $22.92, an increase of 64 cents per $1,000 of assessed property. A home assessed at $185,000 would pay an additional $119, reaching $4,240.

About half the increase is due to the municipal budget, which will need additional property taxes to offset the loss of other revenues, despite the slight increase in spending. Almost all of the remaining half of the tax hike is due to the Regional School Unit 13 budget and a slight amount is due to the already-approved 2018 Knox County budget.

The RSU 13 budget for 2018-2019 will be unveiled Thursday night, April 26.

The municipal budget was developed by the manager and an administrative team.

There will be no increase in the cost of dump stickers or trash bags, the manager said.

The wastewater treatment plant director is still reviewing what to recommend for a sewer rate increase, Luttrell said.

The largest account in the budget is public services, proposed at $3.1 million, down nearly $10,000.

The police department budget is proposed at $2.1 million, down about $60,000.

The fire department budget is proposed at less than $2.1 million, down $23,000.

Debt service for repayment of borrowing remains at $1.2 million.

The library budget is recommended at nearly $600,000, up $26,000.

The harbor and waterfront budget is proposed at nearly $450,000, up $48,000.

The City Council will begin its review of the budget Wednesday, May 2. Final adoption is scheduled for June 25.