The proposed 2020-2021 municipal budget for Rockland is increasing 3.4 percent, due to money for paving and greater debt repayments.

City Manager Tom Luttrell unveiled the administration's proposed spending and revenue plan at the Monday evening, March 2 City Council meeting.

The $14.1 million package would result in a property tax increase of about $73 for a person who owns a home assessed at $150,000.

The already approved 2020 Knox County budget will increase the city taxes by about $10 for the same home.

The proposed Regional School Unit 13 budget for 2020-2021 is expected to be unveiled later this month. The school budget accounts for 57 percent of city taxes.

Luttrell pointed out that if the budget did not include an additional $400,000 for road paving, and if debt service from previous voter-approved bonds were not included, the overall spending would be down from a year ago.

"But we would not be addressing the needs of the City," Luttrell stated.

The manager pointed out that during the past five years, the amount of property taxes needed to support the municipal operations has increased an average of 1.5 percent during the past five years. Tax increases have largely been due to school and county budgets, he said.

The proposed 2020-2021 municipal budget includes the full year's salary for a planner. The planner position was approved last year and was expected to be filled in January so only half the money for the position had been included in the 2019-2020 budget. The position has not yet been filled.

The 2020-2021 budget also includes money for a new lieutenant position in the fire department to handle the increased number of emergency medical services calls. That position would be more than offset by the additional $150,000 in revenue the city expects to get for ambulance fees. The city has budgeted receiving $650,000 in ambulance fees for the next year.

The capital improvement budget is up $247,000 to pay a new roof, and paving of the parking lot and driveway at city hall.

The schedule of this year's budget review is nearly two months earlier than in past years. The proposed schedule calls for Council reviews nearly every week until final adoption on Monday, April 27.

The overall municipal budget is proposed at $14,096,839, an increase of 3.4 percent ($467,912).

Employees are receiving a 2 percent pay raise, increasing the budget $155,000.

The largest account in the budget is public services at $3.14 million, an increase of 9,2 percent ($267,000). This includes the cost of operating the solid waste facility.

The fire/emergency medical services budget is proposed at $2.22 million, an increase of 4.1 percent ($89,000).

The police department budget is proposed at $2.18 million, an increase of 2 percent ($45,000).

Debt service is budgeted at $1.36 million, an increase of 14 percent ($167,000).

The cost of public utilities is budgeted at $685,000, a decrease of 5 percent ($36,000).

The library budget is proposed at $617,000, up 1.4 percent ($9,000).

The harbor and waterfront budget is proposed at $422,000, down 4.4 percent ($20,000).

The finance office budget is proposed at $614,000, up 2.5 percent ($15,000).

In terms of non-property tax revenues, state revenue sharing is expected to increase by about $20,000, reaching $826,000. And reimbursement from the state for homestead exemptions and the business equipment tax break is budgeted at $1.1 million.

Motor vehicle excise tax revenue is budgeted at $1.2 million, up about $30,000.

The city expects to receive $90,000 from the cable franchise fee, $40,000 from police security details, and $15,000 from parking tickets.

Revenues from cruise ships is expected to drop to $12,000 for the next budget year. down from nearly $28,000 in the past year, $21,000 the year before that, and $35,000 in 2017-2018.

The separate wastewater treatment plant budget of $4,073,000, which is supported by user fees, will not result in an increase in the user fee. This is a decrease of $85,000.