GARDINER — Residents will get a break from a tax increase this year because the City Council has approved a $8.7 million budget that’s decreased 1.7 percent.

The $5.1 million municipal portion of the budget was reduced by about 1 percent.

City Manager Scott Morelli said city officials continue to hold the line on the municipal budget, which only increased 1.25 percent in the last three budget cycles.

Mayor Andrew MacLean said councilors recognize that Gardiner taxpayers are still struggling in an economy that is “stubbornly slow to recover.”

He said Morelli and his staff were able to maintain the current tax rate of $19.90 per $1,000 of property value and still provide important services that residents expect.

MacLean also said the council applauds School Administrative District 11 and Kennebec County for fiscal restraint, which contributed to the city’s effort to keep property taxes in line. Morelli said city services and staff will remain intact even with $692,000 in cuts he had to make to achieve a budget with no tax increase.

He said the city will still be able to reset cemetery stones, replace light poles downtown, provide public wireless Internet at the Waterfront Park, redesign the city’s website, install a new phone system at City Hall and buy some new equipment for the fire department.

The approved budget also will provide funding for improved maintenance of the downtown, Waterfront Park and the Common, he said.

“This was not an easy feat and I give a lot of credit to our City Council and our staff who have found many ways over the past few years to save money,” Morelli said.

Morelli said bidding out banking and insurance services as well as switching from heating oil to wood pellets at City Hall and the public works garage will save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Along with the city’s budget, councilors last week approved the ambulance and wastewater enterprise funds, paid for by user fees and fees from partner communities.

The $934,877 ambulance budget is 3.5 percent less than the current budget, he said. But there is a 1.1 percent increase in the $1,550,399 wastewater budget.

He said sewer bills will not increase except for those that go up because of the new billing formula that goes into effect on Sunday. Rates will increase for some and decrease for others depending on their usage. The city has switched to a billing formula that is more closely aligned with a customer’s usage.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]


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