WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday will consider taking a final vote on a proposed $40 million municipal and school budget for 2017-18, but it is not known whether they will amend the proposal to add two ed tech IIIs and security cameras for Waterville Senior High School, as recommended by the Waterville Board of Education.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the council chambers on the third floor of The Center downtown at 93 Main St.

The council last Tuesday took a first vote on the proposed budget, unanimously approving the proposed $40 million without the education requests, which total $75,000.

Mayor Nick Isgro warned he would veto a budget proposal that included that amount, which the school board voted July 24 to include in their budget.

As part of the vote last Tuesday, the council approved cutting about $262,500 from City Manager Michael Roy’s originally recommended municipal budget of $18,559,623 and approved two additions totaling $181,700 — the cost of a new recycling truck and videotaping for council meetings.

Proposed city spending cuts include the reduction of a new code enforcement officer position from full time to half time, cutting $50,000 in paving, eliminating purchase of two police cruisers, reducing a proposed cost of living increase for city employees and reducing the city’s contribution to health insurance.

The budget the council approved represents a 3.1 percent, or a $1.1 million, increase over the $39 million budget councilors approved for 2016-17.

If they approve the same budget Tuesday, the current tax rate of $22.80 per $1,000 worth of valuation would increase by 53 cents to $23.33 per $1,000.

That means a homeowner who has a house valued at $100,000 paid $2,280 in taxes for this year and would pay $2,333 next year — a $53 increase.

If they opt to include the $75,000 for the two ed techs and security cameras, the tax rate would increase by 63 cents per $1,000 worth of valuation, from $22.80 to $23.43. In that case, a homeowner whose property is valued at $100,000 would pay $2,343, a $63 increase.

The school board on July 24 met to vote on a proposed school budget amount and approved proposed cuts and added the two items into the budget — two ed tech positions and surveillance cameras for the high school. The two education technician III positions would cost $60,000 and the cameras $15,000, for a total of $75,000.

The spending additions drew quick comment from Isgro, who posted to Facebook the next day an email he had sent to councilors earlier in the day saying he encouraged them to “vote on and pass the budget exactly as it was presented and agreed to last week.” Isgro criticized school board members, who he said had “ambushed” schools Superintendent Eric Haley with the proposed changes and had taken “a combative stance.” Isgro maintained that, because a proposed budget was brokered in good faith, last-minute changes would undermine the mutual trust built during negotiations.

“Any changes to the budget as agreed to last week will be met with a budget veto,” he wrote.

The “agreement” Isgro referred to, however, involved private discussions he and City Manager Michael Roy and Council Chairman Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, had with councilors and others, individually or in small groups, to come up with a budget that would ensure school funding and provide tax relief. Those discussions were not held in public.

Meanwhile, school board members said a final budget total really could not be developed until recently because the city did not know how much money the state would give to Waterville schools.

City Manager Michael Roy said the discussions held the week before the council took its first vote on the budget resulted in a proposed budget amount and the discussions were based on the assumption that the numbers would not change, but Haley had made it clear that he could not say for certain what the school board would do with the numbers. As it turned out, the school board made changes during its meeting July 24.

Haley said at the council meeting July 25 that he had made no agreement on what the numbers in the budget would look like — that he has no authority to make such an agreement. The school board, he said, determines the school budget.

He also said school officials had been working on the budget with a moving target, not knowing when the state would release information about how much money schools would get for funding and when the council would meet to take a first vote on the budget.

“I don’t think that it’s fair to say the board did this at the last minute,” he said.

School board member Susan Reisert said last week that she was told officials are going to make an effort to find the $75,000 to include the education technicians and the cameras in the budget before Tuesday’s vote.

Meanwhile, Councilor Nick Champagne, R-Ward 5, said many voters in his ward are homeowners on fixed incomes and can not afford a higher property tax.

Isgro also said he has spoken to a lot of middle-age blue-collar workers who said they will move if taxes continue to rise.

In other matters Tuesday, councilors will consider taking a final vote to sell 19 Summer St. to Donald Zaltsburg.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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