WATERVILLE — Mayor Karen Heck wants more people to be involved in city affairs.
To that end, she and City Manager Michael Roy are inviting residents to join them at Waterville Public Library to learn more about how the city budget process works, how the tax rate is determined and what fiscal challenges the city faces.

The session will be 6:30–7:30 tonight and hosted by Library Director Sarah Sugden.

The event is the first of many meetings Heck and Roy will coordinate as a way to get residents engaged, according to Heck, who  became mayor in January.

“If people understand some of the context and get a chance to offer input, they have a better understanding of what we’re up against and what’s happening,” Heck said Monday.

“And I want people to understand that what’s happening in Augusta and at the federal level — which is to decrease, decrease, decrease — only trickles down and we are forced to pay higher taxes. It’s a process people need to be fully engaged in and understand why property taxes go up.”

Heck said she and Roy will explain where the city gets its revenues and why the city’s tax rate of $24.65 per $1,000 worth of valuation looks high compared to that of other towns and cities.

She and Roy will do a presentation for 20 or 25 minutes and then open up the session for questions, comments and concerns.

“I’m looking forward to seeing people and hearing what they have to say,” Heck said.

Roy said he hopes residents come not only to learn about the budget process itself, but also about the challenges and pressures facing the city.

He said he hopes to be able to show them how the state has “abdicated its responsibility.”

“One of the reasons municipal budgets are under so much pressure is that the state has failed to live up to its promise for state education subsidy and revenue sharing,” he said.

He said there will be no restrictions placed on questions residents want to ask.

“It’s wide open,” he said.

Heck said she and Roy will coordinate the meetings monthly, with a different topic to be discussed each time. Economic development opportunities and activities happening in Waterville will be one such topic, she said.

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