WATERVILLE — Mayor Nick Isgro said Saturday city councilors are planning a 13 percent property tax increase and have been using an effort to recall him from office as a distraction from work on the city budget.

“They have been quietly crafting a budget proposal to increase property taxes by a whopping 13% via a 3.1 increase in the mill rate, bringing us to $26.43 per $1,000,” Isgro said Saturday in a post on his mayoral Facebook page. “This is an attack on the livelihoods of taxpayers, property-owners, working middle-class families, and seniors living on fixed incomes.”

The post goes on to say “political elites both on the city council and behind the scenes are colluding with political parties and special interest groups from outside Waterville” on the budget proposal and a tax increase.

“They are all working to distract the public and the media from their budget scheme with their effort to remove me from office so I can’t veto it,” Isgro wrote. “They don’t want you to know about it until it’s too late; the final vote on the budget is set for after the recall vote. This is the kind of sneaky politics that is often found in Augusta, and they are trying to introduce it here.”

Isgro, a second-term Republican, is the subject of a recall election scheduled for June 12 that originated after backlash over comments he has made on social media, including a post on his private Twitter account telling a Florida school shooting survivor to “Eat it.”

He did not respond Saturday afternoon to a phone call or email seeking comment on the budget.

Meanwhile, two city councilors reached Saturday said they had not heard anything about a 13 percent tax increase and the city is still in the midst of budget meetings to review proposals from individual departments.

“I have not been quietly working on any such proposal,” said Councilor Jackie Dupont, a Democrat from Ward 7. “I have been attending budget meetings, hearing from departments and taking in all the information. I don’t think final numbers have been completely put together yet.”

Winifred Tate, a Democrat representing Ward 6, said she could not comment on whether a tax increase will be necessary this year, adding that there are no final budget numbers yet.

“All we’ve done is public budget workshops,” Tate said. “We understand the city is facing serious budget shortfalls that are going to require very hard choices on the part of the city. We’re still waiting for the mayor to weigh in with a constructive proposal on how to get that work done.”

A draft of the city budget proposed in March calls for an $18.2 million municipal budget, which represents a 0.8 percent drop in overall spending but still calls for a tax increase to make up for lost revenue.

It called for a 1.68 point increase in the city’s tax rate, based on school funding staying the same. The school district, however, has since proposed a $2.3 million budget increase to bring its budget up to $24.4 million.

According to the draft prepared in March by City Manager Mike Roy, shortfalls in state revenue sharing money have contributed to a drop in the city’s fund balance from over $10 million in 2008 to $5.5 million in 2017. The city also is looking at a loss of about $1.3 million in revenue in 2018-2019 because of the loss of one-time funds including the use of surplus, Penobscot Energy Recovery Corp. reimbursement and prior-year bond money.

Isgro, who in the past has been critical of city spending, vetoed original budgets in 2015 and 2016. He also threatened to veto the budget last year if the council approved a $75,000 spending item for two education technicians and security cameras at Waterville Senior High School.

He did not attend the last budget workshop, where councilors also voted to schedule the recall election for June 12.

A council vote on the budget typically takes place in late June or July, though last year a budget was not approved until August, after a state government shutdown.

Isgro said the council and outsiders are trying to delay making public any information about the budget until after the recall election.

The election question will ask voters if they want to recall Isgro. If it passes, he would be removed from office, the council chairman would take over some of the mayor’s duties, and another date would be set for a mayoral election.

City Clerk Patti Dubois has said holding the recall vote on June 12 is the most cost-effective option for the city because it is the date of an already scheduled state election.

Isgro said councilors know that if he is recalled, he won’t be able to veto the budget and the tax rate increase he said they are proposing.

“We can vote against these sneaky tax increases by voting ‘NO’ on June 12,” Isgro said. “This is Our City, I am Your Mayor, and together we look out for Our Neighbors. Thank you for your support.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected].

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.