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City audit sets new record

By Stephen Betts | Jan 15, 2020

Rockland — A tight rein on spending during the past year fueled a dramatic increase in the surplus for Rockland city government.

The annual audit found that the city's surplus grew by $769,622 from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. The financial cushion has reached a record high of $3,080,160.

The audit by certified public accountant James Wadman of Ellsworth also found no deficiencies in the city's financial operations. City Manager Tom Luttrell pointed out to city councilors at their Jan. 13 meeting that this is the second consecutive year that the city's finances received a clean audit.

The additional surplus generated during the past year was the result of the city spending far less than what had been budgeted. Much of the under-spending was the result of vacancies not being filled.

The surplus now represents about 13% of the amount of property taxes billed by the city for municipal, school, and county operations.

The City Council adopted a policy in 2006, on the advice of its auditors, of maintaining a surplus equal to no less than 8% of the taxes billed each year.

Wadman has said in previous years that the Maine Municipal Association recommends municipalities maintain general fund balances of 10 to 12%.

During 2018 through 2019, the city under-spent its budgeted expenditures by $1.1 million.

The public services department under-spent its budget by $578,669.

The increase in the surplus during the 2018-2019 budget followed 2017-2018 when the surplus jumped $883,457. This means the surplus has doubled in two years.

At the Jan. 13 meeting, the council made use of some of the surplus by authorizing the use of $188,172 for the street light purchase project.

The Council approved an agreement Dec. 16 to purchase approximately 690 streetlights from Central Maine Power.and voted to approve a contract with RealTerm Energy US, LP of Annapolis, Maryland, for the conversion of those public streetlights to light emitting diodes (LEDs).

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Comments (7)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jan 18, 2020 17:30

Surplus? Smoke and mirrors! Public works garage way overdue to be replaced. Major road repairs needed. Dump closure costs. Facing more RSU 13 costs.  Am sure I have missed something, but you get the picture.  Lets be real, folks. If it smells too good to be true it probably is. Start looking at cuts that can be made BEFORE it is budget time.  PS No state property tax abatement for the poor and elderly will put some over the edge.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Jan 16, 2020 05:10

Thank you

Posted by: Ananur Forma | Jan 15, 2020 16:05

Congratulations. This is great news!

Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Jan 15, 2020 15:14

City manager Tom Luttrell deserves all the credit.


Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jan 15, 2020 12:52

Don't tell "The Donald" as he will take credit for i

Posted by: Amy Files | Jan 15, 2020 11:30

This is good news for Rockland (and thanks to our Council and our City Management) -- that we have a sound and healthy surplus. Based on the recent report on infrastructure investment we'll need to make in order to deal with rising waters -- one of many infrastructure issues we face --  it's good to hear that we are currently maintaining the recommended surplus (per the Maine Municipal Association).

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Jan 15, 2020 09:36

I have been saying for years the city could reduce their budget by a million dollars and I keep being told it can’t be done. Well now instead of taxpayers feeling the relief the city has the benefit of receiving a big refund check. Money the council will be anxious to spend on just about any expense they deem necessary. As I have insisted there are more savings out there so as we approach budget time let’s find ways to refund those who need that money most. Rockland taxpayers. Especially now after the new city assessment  comes in

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