WATERVILLE — The City Council tonight is scheduled to take a first vote to approve a proposed $36 million municipal and school budget for 2012-13.

The proposed $36 million budget is about $4,000 more than the current budget.

If the proposed budget is approved, however, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay $50 to $100 more a year in property taxes.

The city’s tax rate of $24.65 per $1,000 worth of assessed valuation would increase to $25.15 to $25.65 per $1,000, according to City Manager Michael Roy.

“It’s a very minuscule increase,” Roy said Monday of the budget increase. “The increase in property tax is due to a reduction in revenues form the state.”

He said the proposed municipal budget is “bare bones.” City officials tried hard to keep costs down, but have no control over some fixed costs that have increased, such as for utilities, insurance, salaries and fuel, he said.

Both Roy and Mayor Karen Heck have criticized the state for passing costs on to towns and cities, which are increasing property taxes to make up the difference.

“The budget problems have just been passed on from the state level down to the towns and cities,” Roy said, “and really, by law, they’re (the state) required to fund education at a certain percentage and revenue sharing at a certain percentage. And they’re not abiding by what the law says, to either of these.”

Roy said the state may be abiding by the law with regard to schools in Waterville, but certainly not in terms of state revenue sharing for Waterville.

“We’re down $1.3 million compared to what we were getting in state revenue sharing in 2008,” he said, “and every year since then we’ve had to use our surplus to support that.”

The council is required to take three votes on the proposed budget and may take one or two votes tonight.

In other matters, the Council is scheduled to take final votes on a request to guarantee a $1.25 million loan for the Waterville Opera House renovation and addition project.

Opera House officials say project costs are about $600,000 over budget and construction bills are coming in faster than pledge money.

The Opera House has no assets and is housed in City Hall, so such a loan needs to be guaranteed by the city, which owns the property, according to officials.

Roy supports the loan guarantee.

“This will give them the authority they need to go out and make commitments,” he said of Opera House officials.

Councilors also are scheduled to take a second of three votes needed to support a proposed ordinance banning smoking at city-owned playgrounds.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center and will be preceded by a review of the proposed school budget at 6 p.m.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]


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