When Gardiner elected officials start to review the proposed spending plan for the next budget year, they will consider a budget that maintains ongoing city projects, pays the negotiated wage increases approved in the current budget year and adds three positions to the city’s staff.

As presented by interim City Manager Anne Davis, the budget represents an overall 5.7 percent increase to the operating budget, resulting in a 2.7 percent increase in the city’s mill rate, bringing it from $22 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $22.60 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

For the owner of a home valued at $146,900 — the median price of a Gardiner home — that means paying an additional $88.06.

That’s only one portion of the property tax bill for city residents. Both the Gardiner-area school district and Kennebec County government are developing their budgets, but they are not yet final.

Balancing out the spending, city officials expect $3 million in new taxable value, have projected increased excise tax collections and have identified $150,000 that was earmarked for a line of credit program that drew no applicants as one-time revenue. And while no one yet knows what Gardiner’s state revenue sharing allocation will be — for budgeting purposes the current year’s amount was included — Maine state officials have committed to honor its promised 62.5 percent reimbursement to municipalities from the revenue loss from the expanded homestead exemption.

The three new positions being requested are a full-time economic development director, a school resource officer and a firefighter/paramedic.

Davis first brought the idea of having a full-time economic development director to the council earlier this month.

For the last several years, the city has contracted with Gardiner Main Street for economic development services and Patrick Wright, the executive director of Gardiner Main Street, has provided those services on a part-time basis. Wright has announced he’s leaving Gardiner Main Street later this year and that organization has chosen not to continue the contract as it searches for its next director.

Davis said with the number of projects currently underway, including the sale of lots in the city’s Libby Hill Business Park and the downtown facade improvement program, it’s wise to have someone oversee them.

Gardiner Police Chief James Toman said the request for a school resource officer would add a second school resource officer in the department.

“We’ve had a school resource officer for close to 20 years,” Toman said.

Gardiner Finance Director Denise Brown said funding for the position would be split between the city and the Gardiner-area school district, which would pay 80 percent of the cost.

Funding for the firefighter position, Brown said, would be split between the city’s general fund and the Ambulance fund, which would pay the majority of the cost. That position was requested to cut down on the department’s overtime costs and to provide relief for the current staff, she said.

The spending plan includes several vehicle replacements, funding for a broadband study and updating the city’s website and covering the increased costs of health insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

City officials are currently interviewing candidates for city manager; the budget includes a salary adjustment for that position as well as salary increases for several long-serving city department head positions.

Budget discussions start Wednesday, with a review of budget requests for the Gardiner Police Department and the Gardiner Fire and Ambulance.

On April 11, the City Council will review spending proposals for the Gardiner Public Library, technology, general government, planning and development, and wastewater treatment.

On April 18, requests for Public Works and Buildings and Grounds will be heard as well as community and social service budget requests, and the city’s tax increment financing districts.

Elected officials will start debating and discussing the proposed budget on May 2 following a public hearing. Continued discussion and debate is scheduled for May 16.

On June 6, a public hearing and first read of the budget is scheduled. A public hearing and second and final read of the budget is scheduled for June 20.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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