Split Council approves $10.5 million budget, pay-per-bag trash fees

Property taxes to rise due to personal property exemption for businesses
By Daniel Dunkle | Jun 30, 2014
Source: File photo Mayor Larry Pritchett

Rockland — A divided Rockland City Council voted 3-2 to approve the proposed $10.5 million 2014-2015 municipal budget June 30 following a short public hearing at City Hall.

Councilors Elizabeth Dickerson and Louise MacLellan-Ruf opposed the budget. Mayor Larry Pritchett and Councilors Eric Hebert and Frank Isganitis approved it.

The total gross budget for the city, including $8.8 million in intergovernmental costs (schools and county) is $19.5 million. The net budget, or that paid for through property tax will be $15.7 million.

Acting City Manager Tom Luttrell said the city property tax rate may be $20.16, up from $19.52 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The municipal spending has not increased, according to city officials, but the taxes are being driven up by other factors including increased school district costs.

Another factor was that this year 59 businesses in the city applied for business equipment taxation exemptions, reducing the amount the city takes in from taxing businesses for personal property. In the past the city has been able to tax retail businesses on their office equipment, but that equipment is now exempt.

The city's valuation is down. Other major factors in this change was the loss of Wal-Mart, which moved to Thomaston and The Strand's change to non-profit status.

To reduce costs, the city is considering some consolidation of departments. Luttrell said the city is proposing combining the fire chief and police chief into one position as public safety director. In addition, the city has not hired a new city manager, but has had Luttrell, the finance director, fill in that position since the resignation of James Smith in December.

During the public hearing, resident Steve Carroll called for drastic cuts of millions of dollars to the budget. He recommended ordering each city department to cut half a million dollars.

Brian Harden said he resented someone telling the council to cut millions out of the budget. He said the council faced difficulties with this budget including state cuts to revenue sharing, rules against setting fees for service in the county's service center and increases in the school budget.

The council voted 3-2 to adopt a new fee schedule for the city's Solid Waste Disposal Facility effective July 1. Dickerson and MacLellan-Ruf opposed the measure.

Residential users who bring trash to the transfer station on Limerock Street will go from buying an annual dump sticker to paying $2.25 per 33-gallon bag of trash, or $1.50 per 22-gallon bag, or 75 cents for a 12-gallon bag.

Courier Publications News Director Daniel Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at ddunkle@villagesoup.com.

Comments (15)
Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jul 01, 2014 22:03

Hi there H R C


Save yourself the expense of the compactor. Just join the crowd that will start depositing the trash bags at the end of somebody else long and dark driveway . . . . Depending on where you live, you may also save on gas!!!!

Posted by: Harley Roger Colwell | Jul 01, 2014 19:50

Wow, the dump fees were already on a meteoric rise: up from ten dollars to sixty five dollars, then up to a propoposed figure of $150+, and finally, to the exponentially more costly per-bag-fee-debacle which has been stubbornly enacted despite much good advice to the contrary. (A favorite, time-honored tradition of Rockland's town fathers) Well, fine. My next purchase, instead of an over-priced dump sticker, will be an industrial-strength trash compactor. To the morons who approved this measure: thank you for the open challenge to my available resources. Anyone care to take wagers on just how many hundreds of pounds of compacted trash a skilled village-tinker with a full machine shop can fit into a thirty three gallon volume? As it is, I can barely lift some of the more expertly hand-packed parcels. Whoooooo-weeeeee. Just wait for your innocuous-looking orange or purple bag...... delivered to the hopper on the end of my Towmotor's forks. Looks like I've got 10 months to perfect my method, too:-)


Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jul 01, 2014 18:43

I understand the confusion over the dump sticker issue. What I don't understand is if we all pay the same for the bags why that isn't fair. We all pay the same mill rate, the only difference being the value of the property. Everybody doesn't generate the same amount of garbage so paying for our own seems fair to me. Rockland has many multi-family apartment buildings and they pay the same mill rate as I do on a single family home that generates less trash then a two family house. I wouldn't think one would need a lawyer to explain that to them. Lot of closed minds around here.

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jul 01, 2014 15:07

To J Y and the 99% who, still, consider Rockland home:


What else has to happen in Rockland for us to understand that City Hall has become the refuge of Ali-Baba and the 40 Developers? NFP moving in, Rockland Main Street Inc. receiving $30,000.00,  The Franken-hotel on Pleasant/Main St, more hotels to come . . . All the monies going to downtown biz and the heck with the rest of the infrastructure . . .


So Rockland is becoming too expensive for the 99%? Surprise, surprise! Exactly as planned, push the 99% out and have Rockland become a 1% town [Whoops! I meant City].


Paranoia? Perhaps; but how is asking? We [the 99%] either do something real soon or we may not be able to afford living in Rockland!

Posted by: James York | Jul 01, 2014 14:46

Thank you Mrs and Mr. Faber for your comments on this issue.  The per pay imposed on us with this council, on top of the tax increases (city & schools) hits struggling working families the hardest.  The points made in others comments about families leaving our city is spot on.  Its too bad that all the folks who rallied against the new Main St hotel were largely missing? from this concern of taxes and the dump (did I miss the signs along the rotary alerting me to this meeting?)  That being said I think our DPW , fire, police, and city workers represent some of the strengths of our city and should not be asked to answer what is essentially a revenue question.  I would be interested in helping out with another citizens referendum as well as a much needed commission/study to find a way to keep our city affordable for working class residents - who i believe  are the life-blood of our city.

Posted by: Adele Grossman Faber | Jul 01, 2014 13:18

It is no wonder there is a lot of confusion as the PROCESS happened so fast without citizen input or education. Barry informed the city attorney and the council on June 2 at the public meeting that Rockland had a binding contract with the citizens who bought the $65 sticker. That will be honored until May 1, 2015. However, the council voted last night to raise the sticker fee on those that have NOT bought stickers for the coming year. Starting today, July 1, 2014, the sticker price is $135 only for those that did not buy the $65 sticker.  The pay per bag have been offered for a few years as an option. The 33 gallon bag was $1.50 but the 33 gallon bag purchased starting today will be $2.25. After May 1, 2015, only pay per bag will be allowed unless a citizen referendum overturns it as they did several years ago. The citizen referendum was good for 5 years. We are beyond that now.

Posted by: Constance Jean Morris | Jul 01, 2014 12:53

I totally agree with S.R!!!. How or why would you change this fee right after many of us JUST bought our sticker?????? Does ANYBODY down at city hall EVER stop and think before they start changing "laws" on a whim?????? On top of that, every time you up the property taxes, more and more people move out of Rockland...Then what are you going to do when you've run everybody off????Who pays for a new high school then??



Posted by: JOCELYN WILCOX | Jul 01, 2014 12:20

Gee, the City Council certainly thought this Pay-Per-Bag idea through quite well, didn't they ?  Approved on June 30, 2014 effective July 01, 2014 - the very next day !!!! Next year would have the appropriate date, but I guess the Council doesn't feel that a dump sticker bought back in May for 1 year, isn't a binding, legal contract for them to consider.

Where are the bags? If I use a trash hauler, will he be able to supplyme with the bags I need, or will special trips have to be made to make sure I have enough bags on hand I need.  Will the cost differ as to how they're obtained? Via hauler or purchased directly from the gate house, or will there be a special new place to handle bags & payment for them.

Does this mean we no longer have to recycle ? You see, I've not paid attention this early, thinking that I had perhaps a year before I had to be concerned.  But my hauler comes the day after tomorrow !!!

Will the trash haulers no longer be required to go on the scale if all they have in their vehicle the bags the Council has deemed to be "Our Color" ? Or can they just go right into the hopper to off load?   Perhaps if they can go straight to the hopper, they can reduce their fees enough to allow their patrons to pay enough less for their customer to buy the bags required. Otherwise the cost would be more than most of their customers can pay now.  Let's postpone this pay per bag for the year it should legally be and get all options and people on the same page.

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Jul 01, 2014 11:55

Mr. FM I would expect you to do exactly that!

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jul 01, 2014 10:40

Richard....Rockland needs to do like they do in Fla. If you don't pay for the fire dept then you don't get the service. These non-profits are a drain on public services. One other thing...Be careful when voting for councilors, you may get another one on there with their own agenda.

Posted by: Aimee Liberty | Jul 01, 2014 10:40

I am pretty sure that includes everything, schools, county, and city budgets.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jul 01, 2014 10:34

You better hope I don't see you dumping trash on the roadside or you WILL be paying a fine. I wouldn't hesitate to turn you in to the police.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 01, 2014 08:35

That increase is not including the RSU increase! Steve Carroll, please, run for the council in November. I watch the Union Street sidewalks, for the non-profit Farnsworth, being replaced and seeth every time I think of those MAIN STREET TIF'S that are paying for them when the money is needed elsewhere.!!!

Posted by: Adele Grossman Faber | Jun 30, 2014 22:23

You misunderstood. What I said at the public comment session tonight was: "BTW, I just found out today that if you didn't buy your dump sticker for $65, it will be $135 tomorrow, July 1st. And the 33 gallon bags which were $1.50 each, will be $2.25 tomorrow." You and all people who bought  their dump sticker today or before must be honored at the $65 rate, as my husband stated when he spoke on June 2, 2014. Barry explained simple contract law to the city attorney and the council at that meeting. Watch the rerun.

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Jun 30, 2014 21:40

WAIT A MINUTE!!!!!  "new fee schedule for the city's Solid Waste Disposal Facility effective July1"....  July 1 of this year 2014 or July 1, 2015.  I paid $65.00 in May, 2014 for my dump sticker that should be good until May of 2015.  I will be damned if I have to start purchasing bags for my trash on July 1st of this year when my dump sticker is good until May of 2015.  If that is the case I will just start dumping my trash on one of the out of the way country roads.  I would rather pay a fine for that than to be screwed by the city.  I also expect the City to reimburse my $65.00 that I paid in May, 2014.  If the City DOES NOT want to reimburse me my $65.00 than can give me $65.00 worth of the trash bags they are selling.

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