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Budget proposal comes in at almost no increase

By Stephen Betts | May 03, 2021
Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell presented the administrative team's proposed 2021-2022 budget to the City Council at its Monday evening, May 3 meeting.

Rockland — The city government administration has proposed to the Rockland City Council a $14.4 million budget for 2021-2022 that represents a near zero increase.

City Manager Tom Luttrell unveiled the proposed municipal budget during the Council's May 3 meeting.

The budget includes body cameras for police officers and reducing one vacant patrol position.

The proposed $14,437,77 budget represents an increase of $34,140 (0.2%) from the approved 2020-2021 budget.

Luuttrell said this was "quite remarkable considering contractual raises and projected health insurance increases." The manager has budgeted $141,000 for wage and benefit increases. The Council is negotiating new contracts with employees.

The Council will hold reviews on the budget May 6, May 12 and May 19 before a preliminary approval vote is held May 26. Final approval by the Council is scheduled for June 21.

Non-property tax revenues were down more than 2% ($127,296) because of less money coming into the landfill, ambulance fees and harbor revenues.

The city manager is projecting that an average home assessed by the city at $185,000 will pay an additional $100 in property taxes. Two thirds of that increase is expected to come from an increased commitment from Regional School Unit 13. The remaining third of the increase is from the reduced revenues for the municipal budget.

Increased environmental regulations will result in an increase in sewer fees.

The largest department in the budget is public services which is proposed at $3,272,510 — an increase of 6.3% ($192,793). 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 city 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.

The police department budget is proposed 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.

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

The general government 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 is proposed at $2,181,913 — an increase of 0.3% ($7,516).

In addition, the city proposes financing a new ambulance for $250,000.

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

The library budget is unchanged at $603,737.

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

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

The recreation budget is proposed a $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 said interviews with candidates for the post are scheduled for this week.

The wastewater treatment budget is proposed 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 cost of chemicals to treat wastewater is going from $250,000 in the current budget year to $726,000 for the budget year that begins July 1.

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Comments (3)
Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | May 04, 2021 08:35

Certain that the announcement of a (nearly) 0 % increase in the City budget will be applauded by most, however this is nothing more than an effort to kick the can further down the road.  Lots of unanswered questions.  Four vacancies on the police dept, yet only one denied.  Land fill and ambulance revenues down yet city to purchase new ambulance and pay higher disposal fees.  Pay & benefit increases all around despite lower revenues.  Body cams, please this isn't Milwaulkie yet more like Mayberry.  After a month of haggling over the details by council, pretty sure the outcome will be about the same.



Posted by: Stephen Betts | May 04, 2021 04:17

James,

The 55,000 is budgeted for the salary. Benefits are not included in that figure.



Posted by: James York | May 03, 2021 23:03

Kudos for city manager for keeping an eye our for the tax payer, but if we are really serious about reclaiming our Rec center I think 55k ( I am guessing total package benefit etc.) for new director seems skinny for that job, lets invest in our youth and make sure we get the right candidate to help lead our kids. Also wondering why Municipal pier takes a hit again, is it that the pier it is being back filled by fed govt money, the fish pier, run right, should be a money maker for the city.



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