WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday will consider voting to override Mayor Nick Isgro’s July 6 veto of the $38 million municipal and school budget for 2016-17 that the council approved.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center downtown.

With the new budget and a recently completed city revaluation, the tax rate decreased from $27.80 to $24.50 per $1,000 worth of assessed property value. While some people’s property taxes will decrease or stay the same, many will increase. Tax bills will be sent to property owners next month.

Meanwhile, anxiety and frustration over some higher tax bills caused by the revaluation is focusing more scrutiny on the city budget, which the council voted to approve 4-2 on July 5.

In his veto message to councilors, Isgro said the budget needs to be reworked because taxes are so high and many people, including those on fixed incomes, will have a tough time paying taxes, utility, food and other bills. Property owners, he said, are being driven out of their homes because of the city’s high tax rate — one of the highest in the state.

The seven-member council on Tuesday will first take a vote on the budget, as vetoed by the mayor, according to City Solicitor Bill Lee.

If five councilors vote in favor of the budget, then it is approved. If fewer than five vote in favor, it becomes open for amendments, and then another vote may be taken. However, the mayor has the option to veto the budget again.

Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, said Friday he plans to vote to sustain the veto, saying he’s received about 50 calls and emails from “very angry constituents” who are facing big jump in tax bills over the revaluation. That makes it important for councilors to find more cuts to the city budget to provide relief, he said.

“It’s a wide swath of destruction for the working middle class,” Mayhew said of some tax increases.

Councilor Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, said Friday he has not been in favor of the budget as approved, though he would “hate to see anything happen that would affect our schools.”

Even so, “I think we can cut back a little bit more,” Soule said, adding that he thinks Isgro’s veto should be sustained “unless someone can convince me otherwise.”

Councilor Rosemary Winslow, D-Ward 3, said she’s had a number of conversations in recent weeks with people concerned about their taxes, related especially to the effect of the citywide property revaluation. Winslow said she “would have preferred seeing the budget make it through” as approved and not be vetoed, but she looks forward to the discussion Tuesday.

“This has been one of the most difficult budgets,” she said Friday. “There’s not much give for the schools as they cut and cut and cut more. I think both the city and schools did a good job nickel-and-diming just about everything.”

Councilors Nathaniel White, Dana Bushee, Jackie Dupont and Chairman John O’Donnell could not be reached for comment Friday.

Isgro has said that while the council and others have done a responsible job with the budget this year, a lot of the city’s financial problems go back many years. Over a 10-year period, the municipal budget increased $5 million, with $2 million of that being the school budget increase, not counting revenue. State revenue sharing to the city was $2.4 million in 2009-10, down from the previous year, when the city received $2.9 million. This year, the city expects to get about $1 million.

From 2011 to 2014, the city borrowed $12 million for various projects, including a new police station, renovation of the opera house and library, the Quarry Road Recreation Area, the airport, City Hall and work on roads and equipment and the property valuation. Now the city must pay $1 million in fixed annual debt, according to Isgro.

Isgro said in his veto message that he does not blame the city for all of the financial problems. The state changed the school funding formula as it relates to Title I funding and cut revenue sharing, and last year the Legislature increased the homestead exemption from $10,000 to $15,000, he said. Isgro maintains that while legislators touted that as a form of property tax relief, the city lost about $13 million in assessable value. Cities and towns, he said, are now having to work the loss into local tax rates.

Isgro vetoed last year’s city budget as well, and councilors ultimately upheld the veto and took a final vote on the budget with an amendment that $58,000 be taken out of surplus and put toward tax relief, as the mayor wanted.

In other matters Tuesday, councilors will consider approving a contract for solid waste disposal. They also will consider taking final votes to adopt an ordinance regulating medical marijuana and repeal the city’s former ordinance; accept a new street, Mount Merici Avenue, which connects upper Western Avenue to Chase Avenue; rename part of Western Avenue that is west of First Rangeway, to Lee Way; rezone 5 acres at 172 Western Avenue from Institutional to Residential-A to allow 28 apartments for seniors to be built in the former Mount Merici convent; and approve a gift from Nancy and Lester Lawrence of a property at 232 Water St. with the understanding that it be sold and the proceeds deposited in the South End Neighborhood account.

The council also will consider voting to approve a natural gas easement to Educare Central Maine off Drummond Avenue, appropriating tax increment financing funds for the Hathaway Creative Center, extending Concourse leases; and extending outdoor dining to Common Street.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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