WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday will review a proposed $20.7 million school budget for 2014-15 and hear presentations on a proposed pay-as-you-throw trash and recycling program for the city.
The meeting will start with the school budget discussion at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center downtown.
That budget represents a $478,176, or 2.36 percent increase, over the current school budget. Most of the increase is reflected in increases in insurances and salaries.
The proposed municipal and school budget for 2014-15 is $38.4 million, about a $1.1 million increase from the $37.2 million budget for 2013-14. That increase is driven largely by lost state revenue sharing and increases in fixed costs such as insurances.
City Manager Michael Roy said Monday that he and other officials are working on ways to avoid a tax increase for 2014-15.
“We’ve asked the School Board and Eric (Haley, school superintendent), to consider a decrease in their budget, in the amount they’re requesting from us,” Roy said. “They may use surplus instead of actually decreasing the budget. We’ve asked them to consider that.”
Roy said that savings, plus instituting a pay-as-you-throw system of trash collection, combined with curbside recycling, would allow for the city to have no tax increase for 2014-15. The current tax rate is $27.40.
“We’re proposing this pay-as-you-throw as a primary way of not having a tax increase whatsoever, so that’s one of the things we want people to understand,” he said.
Meanwhile, the presentation Tuesday on pay-as-you-throw will be given by officials from WasteZero and Ecomaine, the companies the city would contract with if the council approves the new trash collection and recycling program.
As part of the program, residents would buy special trash bags at designated places such as grocery stores, fill them with trash and place them by the curb, to be picked up by the city Public Works Department, which picks up trash curbside. Residents also would recycle items such as cans, bottles and plastic, placing them all in one container, to be picked up by a private hauler the city would hire, Sullivan Disposal Service. Recyclables would be taken to Ecomaine in Portland, where they would be sorted.
Roy and other city officials believe that the new program would prompt residents to recycle more, which would save the city money and reduce the amount of trash placed in landfills.
Tuesday’s presentation is primarily for the council, but the public may ask questions after councilors ask them, according to Roy.
Last week, residents packed the council chambers to ask questions about and comment on the proposed trash program. Asked to show their support or opposition to the program by a show of hands, the result was about half for and half against.
In other matters Tuesday, councilors will consider authorizing the city to apply for two Federal Aviation Administration grants to reconstruct the main runway at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport and inspect lighting there. The FAA would fund 90 percent of the $5.3 million runway construction and lighting and the state and city would each fund 5 percent.