ROCKLAND — The Rockland City Council gave unanimous approval June 28 to a $14.6 million budget for 2021-2022.

The June 28 meeting was the first in-person City Council meeting in more than 15 months.

The budget represents an increase of about $200,000 (1.4%) from the approved 2020-2021 municipal budget. The new budget goes into effect July 1 and runs through June 30, 2022.

Combined with the Regional School Unit 13 budget, and the Knox County budget, the Rockland property tax rate is projected to go from the current $22.30 per $1,000 of assessment to $22.72. That means a person owning a home assessed at $200,000 would pay an additional $84 in property taxes. The increase was due largely to more money going to RSU 13.

The approved municipal budget includes the addition of a full-time city planner. The planner position will add an estimated $113,950 to the budget for salary and benefits.

The budget includes $141,000 for wage and benefit increases for all city employees. The Council is negotiating new contracts with employees.

Rockland resident Stephen Carroll criticized the city for adding a position at a time when non property-tax revenues were declining. He said a private business would not spend more and add positions if its revenues were falling.

City resident Connie Hayes sent in a letter to the city, voicing support for the planner position.

Councilor Ben Dorr said as a business owner he believes in investing in the community even if revenues declined.

Mayor Ed Glaser made a motion to increase the projected amount of state revenue sharing by $200,000 and Councilor Sarah Austin proposed taking $100,000 from the city’s revenue sharing reserve account. The Council approved both changes to the budget. This helps offset a previously expected decline in non-property tax revenues. The amount of property tax dollars to support the budget is largely unchanged from a year ago.

The largest department in the budget is public services which was approved at $3,252,510 — an increase of 6.3% ($222,793). An increase of $139,000 in the contract with EcoMaine for waste disposal is the driving force between the higher public services budget, the manager said.

The budget includes $370,000 for paving, an increase of $40,000 from the current budget. Streets that are proposed to be paved include Talbot Street from Bartlett Drive to Union Street, West Meadow Road, Mountain Road and Broad Street. Sidewalk improvements include School Street, Lawn Avenue, Union Street and Water Street.

Capital improvement items for the department include an excavator for $109,000, mechanical lifts for $45,900, and additional cameras around the solid waste facility for $10,250. Public Services Director Kathy Bourque Parker said additional cameras are needed, pointing out that people come onto the property at night to go through the metal pile, and there was a break-in last year at one of the buildings.

The police department budget was approved at $2,092,400 — a decrease of 4% ($85,048). In addition, the city’s capital improvement plan includes financing for body cameras for police for $120,893. Also in the capital budget are load bearing vests for officers for $10,000, and a new cruiser for $38,000.

The city manager noted the city will not fill one position under this proposed budget. There are currently four patrol vacancies.

Carroll said he sees no need for cameras for police.

“This is not Milwaukee or Seattle,” Carroll said, adding that the community trusts its police department.

The general government budget accounts total $2,923,462, a 7% ($190.646) increase. This consists of the costs of the offices located in city hall such as finance, manager, clerk and community development.

The fire department budget was approved at $2,181,913 — an increase of 0.3% ($7,516).

In addition, the city will buy a new ambulance for $250,000. The city has applied for a grant to buy that but has not yet heard whether it will receive it.

The debt repayment account was approved at $1,344,165, a decrease of 2% ($22,525).

The library budget is unchanged at $603,737.

The harbor budget was proposed at $300,408, down 16% ($55,373).

The code enforcement office budget was approved at $257,442, a 1% increase ($3,263).

The recreation budget was approved at $185,292, a decrease of 10% ($20,502).

Rockland is resuming having the department run by city staff after the contract with the Penobscot Bay YMCA ended in December. The budget includes $55,000 for the salary of the new director. The city manager has conducted a second round of interviews with candidates, but no one has been hired yet for the post.

The wastewater treatment budget was approved at $4,972,456, an increase of 13% due to new state regulations that will increase the city’s sludge disposal and chemical lines, the manager said.

The average homeowner would expect to pay $28 more per year, wastewater Director Terry Pinto said.

The City Council last met for in-person meeting in the Council Chamber on March 17, 2020.