WATERVILLE — City Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, warned city councilors that residents will continue to move out of the city if the council approves a budget that increases the current tax rate of $27.40 per $1,000 worth of valuation any more than $1 per $1,000.

Mayhew said two families in his ward are putting their homes up for sale because of the high taxes. One family lives on Forest Park and is paying $7,000 in property taxes, and another family lives on First Rangeway, he said, adding that they told him it is “unsustainable” to live in the city.

Councilors on May 12 considered a proposed $39.1 million municipal and school budget for 2015-16 that represents a significant increase from the current $37.2 million budget. The city’s finance committee recommends the proposal be cut by $600,000. Increases are reflected mostly in salaries and insurance, and the budget also is affected by the loss of state revenue sharing. City officials emphasize that the budget numbers could change between now and sometime in June, when the budget is expected to be finalized.

Mayhew said Tuesday that he is aware the city is affected by reductions from the state, but giving administrators in the city raises when people are struggling is “not ethical, practical or acceptable.”

“The budget would have to be well under a mill to flat for me to even consider supporting it,” Mayhew said.

His comments prompted Nancy Williams, a member of the Waterville Community Land Trust, to ask whether the council had considered asking the city assessor to evaluate how taxes on a house in Waterville compare to a similar one in a surrounding community.

“I think that would be interesting information to have,” Williams said. “I do not have answers.”

City Manager Michael Roy said a revaluation project is underway in the city and is expected to be completed in a year. It will include a look at a regional sales data analysis over a two-year period, he said, adding that residents will get new tax bills in August 2016 based on the revaluation.

But Councilor Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, said she did not think it appropriate to compare a house in Waterville to one in Sidney because Sidney doesn’t have the same services offered in Waterville. Living in a city is more costly than living in the country, wherever one goes in the U.S., she said.

“I don’t think that it would make sense to compare a home on First Rangeway to a home out in Oakland or Sidney,” she said.

Roy cited services in the city, including those at the airport and municipal pool, that are not available in Sidney.

Tricia Heath, of Eustis Parkway, said she is planning to move out of the city because it is expensive to stay in Waterville. She asked whether the city had compared the number of renters versus property taxpayers and nonprofit organizations in the city.

In other matters Tuesday, councilors voted to appoint a solid waste committee to look at options for waste disposal once the city’s contract expires with Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in 2018. PERC, of Orrington, incinerates the city’s waste.

The council also voted to approve an increase in municipal pool fees and sell 12 Glidden St. to the owner of abutting property. The city acquired the property for nonpayment of taxes.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17