WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday voted 5-2 to borrow $3 million next year for capital improvements, despite Mayor-elect Nick Isgro’s recommendation that they not rush into borrowing until they know what the entire budget will look like and how it would affect the tax rate.

Tuesday night’s meeting was the last one to be attended by councilors Edward Lachowicz, D-Ward 2, and Erik Thomas, D-Ward 4, who supported the borrowing. It is not known whether the councilors replacing Lachowicz and Thomas — Nathaniel White and Sydney Mayhew, respectively, who take office Jan. 6 — support it.

Isgro said after the meeting that the vote to approve borrowing $3 million might come back to haunt some people when new spending is requested, come budget time.

“I think voting on the bond outside of the budget showed a lack of responsibility to the financial plan,” Isgro said.

Councilors on Tuesday initially considered borrowing $4.1 million for capital improvements, including three years’ worth of public works equipment, $305,000 for a citywide revaluation, $290,000 for airport runway construction, $125,000 for a traffic light at the intersection of Kennedy Memorial Drive and Airport Road and $125,000 for replacement of the City Hall roof.

Councilors discussed ways to reduce the $4.1 million figure, including by buying two years’ worth of public works equipment instead of three and borrowing in the future for the remaining equipment.

They proposed decreasing the bond amount to $2.9 million by purchasing two years’ worth of equipment; spending only $25,000 of the $125,000 on the City Hall roof, which would carry the city through at least five years; installing the $125,000 traffic signal; and including $1 million for road repairs.

Thomas argued the city has done a lot of work to City Hall and the Opera House, which is in that building, and the city might as well fix the roof, long-term.

City Manager Michael Roy said borrowing $2 million or $4 million would cost the same amount, and the Opera House roof leaked just last week, from the stage to the building’s main floor.

“I think it would be best to do the roof in its entirety now,” he said.

Lachowicz made a motion to add the roof repair, changing the bond amount to $3 million. Councilors voted 5-2 to approve that amount, with Stubbert and Rancourt-Thomas opposing the borrowing.

Stubbert then made a motion to delay taking a third and final vote on the borrowing until Jan. 6, the date of council’s first meeting in 2015.

“I feel that we need more time to look at it,” he said. “We made some significant cuts today, and there may be more.”

Rancourt-Thomas agreed.

“I’m just not comfortable voting on this without seeing the rest of the city budget,” she said.

But Lachowicz said it was his last meeting serving on the council and he wanted the opportunity to vote.

Councilors voted to reject delaying the vote, with Stubbert and Rancourt-Thomas opposing. They then voted 5-2 to approve borrowing $3 million.

In other matters, councilors voted 7-0 to approve changes to the city’s solid waste ordinance to reflect the new curbside recycling program and pay-as-you-throw trash collection system instituted in July and September, respectively.

Rancourt-Thomas asked whether, since the ordinance had not been changed, the city would have been obligated to pick someone’s trash up at the curb if it were placed in a regular trash bag.

“No, I don’t think so,” Roy said.

He said he thought a provision in the ordinance allows the city to reject picking up trash that is not in the purple pay-as-you-throw bags.

He referred to a section of the ordinance that says the Public Works Department shall have the responsibility and authority to provide rules for collecting acceptable solid waste at dwellings in the city.

“Such rules and regulations must be reviewed and approved by the municipal officers,” the section says.

Councilors approved pay-as-you-throw as part of a $37.2 million budget earlier this year; they did not vote on it as a separate item.

However, the City Charter says orders making appropriations “shall be confined to the subject of appropriations.”

The charter also says “all acts making regulations of a permanent nature shall be by ordinance.”

Stubbert on Monday said he thought pay-as-you-throw should have been voted on by ordinance and since the solid waste ordinance was not changed to reflect pay-as-you-throw, the city remained obligated to pick up trash at the curb whether it was in a pay-as-you-throw bag or a regular trash bag.

The council must take two more votes on the solid waste ordinance changes before they come final. Stubbert said that if the new council next year votes to reject the changes, he does not believe that would quash pay-as-you-throw unless some were to challenge the situation.

Meanwhile, a referendum is to be held in June 2015, for voters to decide whether to keep or repeal pay-as-you-throw.

Councilor Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, reminded city residents that they are invited to the mayoral inauguration Jan. 6 at the Opera House. It will be held 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., with a council meeting to follow. City councilors and Board of Education members will be sworn in.

Tuesday was Mayor Karen Heck’s last council meeting as well. There were thanks and congratulations all around for Heck, Thomas and Lachowicz. Heck thanked councilors, city staff and Roy for their work.

Before calling the meeting to a close, Heck wished everyone well.

“Happy holidays, shop locally and be safe,” she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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