Sanford’s fire chief said he hopes the City Council will reconsider its vote to cut the city’s fire marshal position, one of a number of budget reductions endorsed by councilors to shrink next year’s tax increase.

“It is important for the safety and vibrancy of the community,” Fire Chief Steve Benotti said.

The Sanford City Council on Tuesday reduced the proposed municipal and school budgets for next year by about $337,000. The 6 to 1 vote, with Councilor Joseph Hanslip dissenting, means the combined budget would increase to $84 million and the tax rate would increase by 48 cents, from $20.50 to $20.98 per $1,000 worth of property. The increase would add $96 to the annual tax bill for a home with an assessed value of $200,000.

The council voted to defund the fire marshal position as of June 30 and voted not to hire two new firefighter/paramedics, among other reductions.

Benotti said the measures taken by the City Council will come with a price. Sanford’s fire marshal conducts construction plan reviews and inspections for commercial building projects, is the department’s sole fire investigator and provides fire safety education, among other tasks.

The City Council takes the final action on the municipal portion of the budget; voters will get a chance to cast a validation ballot on the school budget June 11.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected].

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