Gardiner canceled its Wednesday night City Council meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for March 19.
City Manager Scott Morelli said in an email Wednesday morning they canceled the meeting because not much was on the agenda and the mayor was feeling ill.
The only topic of discussion scheduled for the public portion of the meeting was whether to make the city the fiscal sponsor of an economic development program being organized in conjunction with Gardiner Main Street, the Gardiner Board of Trade and The Bank of Maine.
The program, Gardiner Growth Initiative, will offer incentives such as forgivable loans for infrastructure costs, free rent for long-term leases and micro-grants for working capital.
Gardiner Main Street is asking the city to administer the forgivable loans portion because the city already has experience in running its revolving loan program, said the downtown revitalization organization’s executive director, Patrick Wright.
The city won’t incur any direct costs from administering the program, according to Morelli. Indirect costs, from staff working on the program, will be minimal and won’t affect any services provided by the city, he said.
Councilors weren’t expected to cover the other major issue originally listed on the agenda, a discussion of the fire department and ambulance service, because city staff are still figuring out why ambulance revenue is lower than expected, Morelli said.
He said it’s not clear whether there is an actual deficit in the budget or there is just a delay in the bills coming in.
The possible revenue shortage issue has delayed the development of a cost-saving plan Morelli is planning to propose to lower costs for its ambulance service. He dropped a previous proposal to merge the police and fire chief roles and create a combined code officer and deputy fire chief position after facing opposition from councilors.
The city is trying to lower costs for the surrounding communities also served by the ambulance service to prevent them from leaving the partnership for cheaper, private ambulance companies.