Gardiner city councilors are expected to put forward their ideas for next year’s budget Wednesday night after the city manager provided them historical budget details two weeks ago.

A new budget won’t be in place by the start of next fiscal year on July 1, but the city won’t be in danger of running out of money if councilors can decide on a budget to send to a public hearing next week, said City Manager Scott Morelli.

Councilors at the 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall are also scheduled to discuss whether to grant extensions for developers building houses on property bought from the city, whether to extend a deadline for a junkyard to comply with city requirements and to hear about a proposed contract for the fire department union.

Morelli originally proposed a municipal budget in April that would have increased taxes by 5 percent. Along with a 2.5 percent tax increase from the school budget, the tax bill for the median home valued at $147,000 would have increased by $220.

But some residents and councilors objected to such a large increase, so Morelli came back to council May 28 with municipal budget options that would lead to 2.5 and 3 percent tax increases. The budget with the 3 percent increase he recommended, along with the school and county, would raise the tax rate from $19.90 to $21 per $1,000 of assessed value, raising taxes for the median home by $162.

Although some councilors, including Logan Johnston, at the June 4 meeting advocated for adopting the budget with the 3 percent increase, the council as a whole wanted to offer its own proposals for the budget at Wednesday’s meeting instead.

The roughly 60 pages of budget details compiled by city staff and given to councilors two weeks ago included the history of department budgets going back to 2009, the trends of the budgets and comparisons to similarly sized communities.

Councilors will need to adopt a continuing resolution to allow the city to continue spending money at the current levels after July 1. They will also be asked Wednesday to schedule an additional meeting next week to hold the first public hearing for the budget, Morelli said.

Council needs to hold two public hearings of a proposed budget, and it won’t go into effect for 10 days after final approval.

If councilors put forward a budget for next week as Morelli is hoping will happen, the earliest the budget will go into effect is July 12.

As part of the budget discussion, councilors will also decide if they want the city to continue pursuing a conversion from heating oil to thermal effluent at the wastewater treatment plant. Doug Clark, superintendent of the wastewater treatment plant, is requesting councilors discuss whether to pursue natural gas instead of thermal effluent, and he’ll present information about a recently discovered leak that will need to be repaired at the plant.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig


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