GARDINER — With no public comment and little discussion, the Gardiner City Council on Wednesday approved the city’s budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

At-Large City Councilor Maureen Blanchard voiced two concerns about the budget.

“I had a conversation with Councilor Phil Hart, and he has concerns about the fire boat,” Blanchard said.

At earlier meetings, the District 4 councilor had questioned the need for Gardiner Fire Department to buy a new rescue boat. While the funding remains in the budget, city officials have scheduled a presentation on the rescue boat proposal at a council meeting scheduled for Aug. 24. Hart was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Blanchard said she was frustrated at the low turnout in May at the districtwide meeting on the School Administrative Unit 11 budget, and she said there is no evidence that the school district is trying to control costs. In addition to increases in state funding, she said, the district is seeking even more funding from taxpayers.

“We’re arguing over $40,000 for a rescue boat, They are spending $70,000 on a shed for chairs,” she said.

School district officials have said the storage building would store both chairs and staging to protect them from damage.

“Young families and seniors are carrying the bulk the of this,” she said. “There is no cost containment. Because of that, I am not voting for the budget.”

Mayor Thom Harnett said he had spoken with Hart before the meeting.

“Phil told me he would vote for the budget if he were here,” he said.

The budget passed with a vote of 6-1, with one absent.

The total city budget is $9,975,980.68.

The city’s share of the budget is $5,977,444.58. Of that, the majority is the operating budget of $4.77 million, which is down 2.1 percent from the current year’s budget. The balance is the capital budget of $1.2 million; roughly half of that is dedicated to one-time expenses and won’t recur in future budgets.

The Kennebec County assessment for Gardiner is $322,495.47.

Gardiner’s contribution to funding the School Administrative Unit 11 budget is $3,667,691.30. On May 31, voters approved the budget at the validation meeting and voters in the district, including Gardiner, approved the budget referendum June 14.

The overlay is $8,349.33; the overlay is an amount raised to avoid fractions in the tax rate. At the end of the year, that money goes to the city’s fund balance.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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