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Rockland manager unveils scaled-back city budget

By Stephen Betts | May 09, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell presents the originally proposed 2020-2021 municipal budget March 2.

Rockland — Faced with a dramatically different economic landscape than two months ago, Rockland's city manager released Friday a revised 2020-2021 municipal budget that reduces spending by more than $300,000 from the originally proposed package.

The reductions include eliminating money for a planner position that has yet to be filled after being approved a year ago.

The revised $13,787,462 spending package is a 1.7% increase ($229,278) than the approved 2019-2020 budget.

The original budget was released March 2 and came in at about $14.1 million. This was two weeks before governments began ordering closure of businesses and public gatherings from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, the number of people who lost jobs have skyrocketed, and municipal and school officials are bracing for reductions in state revenue sharing and state education aid.

The City Council is scheduled to review the budget Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., according to the budget schedule. Final approval would come June 22 for the budget that covers spending from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

The largest cut is the elimination of money for the planner. There is also a $51,000 reduction in the fire department budget which was for a lieutenant's position that was proposed to be added to handle the increased number of emergency medical service calls.

Another $50,000 was cut out of the paving budget, reducing the amount planned to be spent over the next year from $400,000 to $350,000.

Another $28,000 was cut from the port development reserve account.

The remainders of the cuts are spread out throughout most of the other departments.

The largest single department budget is public services at $3,094,717. This is up 7.5% from the approved 2019-2020 budget. Nearly all of that increase is the $350,000 budgeted for road paving.

The revised police department budget is proposed at $2,186,458, an increase of 2% from the 2019-2020 budget. The city expects to take in $15,000 in revenues from parking tickets, the same as budgeted for 2019-2020.

The revised fire department budget is proposed at $2,174,401, up 1.7% from the current year budget.

The debt service budget is proposed at $1,366,690, an increase of 13.9% ($166,690) from 2019-2020. The debt service budget was not revised from the originally proposed budget because this covers the repayment of previously approved borrowing.

The largest single bond was approved in November 2017 for road paving, library repairs and broadband internet expansion. That amounts to $272,387 for this year's payment and is included in the debt budget.

The finance department budget is proposed at $606,302, an increase of 1.2%. The city did not revise the projected amount of motor vehicle excise taxes it expects to receive for 2020-2021, keeping it at $1.2 million.

The library budget is proposed at $605,808, a reduction of 0.4%.

The harbor budget is proposed at $383,781, down 13.1%. The amount of revenues projected to be received is also down sharply. The city eliminated revenues from waterfront events as well as cruise ship visits. Those activities were originally expected to bring in $67,000.

The recreation budget is proposed at $205,704, an increase of 1.3%.

The manager pointed out at the original budget presentation March 2 that during the past five years, the amount of property taxes needed to support the municipal operations increased an average of 1.5% during the past five years.

Employees are receiving a 2% pay raise, increasing the budget $155,000 from 2019-2020.

City Council budget reviews are scheduled for May 13, 18, 20, 27, June 4 and June 22.

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Comments (3)
Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | May 11, 2020 10:35

Locally hundreds of Rockland taxpayers are out of work businesses are closed and the City responds to this catastrophe by offering employees a 2% raise.  Am I missing something here ?  Let's start where most area businesses do lay off employees, curtail programs, delay purchases, you know all those things small businesses are being forced to do.  NOT this town, why because their revenues (taxes) still keep coming in, so where's the problem ? As I have said for four centuries now.... run the City like a business.  You can't spend it out when its not coming in.  Adjust, adjust, adjust.   Police spending UP, Fire Department spending UP, debt service UP.  When times get tough the tough get going.  Wake up ad smell the's burnt.

Posted by: Stephen Betts | May 10, 2020 07:17

Kendall, the article is clear. The adjustments to the assessments was in the 2019-2020 budget and is well underway. The revaluation was relevant to the proposed 2020-2021 budget and thus not mentioned.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | May 10, 2020 05:16

So, does this budget include the drive-by property re-assessments or not. This article is unclear.

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