WATERVILLE — The Waterville City Council on Tuesday is expected to consider the first of two votes needed to approve a proposed $44.2 million municipal and school budget for 2020-21 that would not increase the current property tax rate.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Mid-Day Cafe at Mid-Maine Technical Center at Waterville Senior High School.

Those who want to attend in person should enter the school through the rear entrance. They are asked to adhere to health and safety guidelines, including wearing face masks and maintaining safe social distances, according to city officials. The gathering is limited to 50 people.

The public may also watch a live stream of the meeting via a link on the city’s website. Comments and questions may be emailed.

The proposed $44.2 million municipal and school budget reflects an increase from the current $42.8 million budget, but the city plans to use more surplus than it used last year, according to City Manager Michael Roy. Revenues have increased, especially on the school side of the budget, Roy said Monday.

The city plans to use $500,000 in surplus for the proposed budget. Because the state homestead exemption is based on $25,000 worth of property valuation or $5,000 more than last year, many residents will see reductions to their property taxes, according to Roy.

“We do have a shortage to make up,” he said. “Some of it can come out of surplus. There is that homestead exemption increase, from $20,000 to $25,000, that will result in an immediate tax cut for people who own their own homes and qualify under the homestead exemption.

“This doesn’t apply to landlords or commercial property owners. They have to own their own home, live there and complete a form with the assessing office.”

Roy said the city does not know how much it will receive in state revenue sharing, and that information will not be available Tuesday night. The state forecasting committee is completing its work, and he does not know if the amount will be known by Aug. 4, the board’s next meeting after Tuesday’s.

Income and sales taxes are the two sources that contribute to state revenue sharing, which is the largest tax revenue the city has after property taxes, according to Roy.

The municipal and school budget covers the period from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, the city’s fiscal year.

The council would have faced a proposed $44.1 million budget Tuesday night, but the finance committee met Monday and recommended some changes to the total, according to Roy.

Mayor Nick Isgro, Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, and Councilor Mike Morris, D-Ward 1, attended the session, but Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 5, was absent.

The committee made three recommendations:

• The city’s property tax rate should remain at $25.76 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

• A position now in the budget for a person to work for both the Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments should not begin until January.

• The Police Department should hire another full-time patrol officer, with that person starting in January. The police position, for a half year, would cost $44,000, including benefits, according to Roy.

The proposed budget represents a shortfall of about $100,000, with $60,000 of that reflected in an overlay budget to cover tax abatements that occur throughout the year, Roy said.

The finance committee has recommended the $100,000 shortfall be split between the city and schools, according to Roy.

The Waterville Board of Education took a first vote April 27 to approve a $25.7 million proposed school budget, and will take a final vote after the City Council finalizes it and the municipal budget.

The school proposal represents an $843,647 increase to the 2019-20 budget, but requires $30,444 less in local taxes than needed this year.

The council in July 2019 approved a $42.7 million municipal and school budget for 2019-20. That budget increased by 49 cents the tax rate of $25.27 per $1,000 in assessed valuation.

Councilors voted July 7 to postpone a first vote on the budget after Councilor Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, suggested the City Council wait for updates from the state about revenue sharing.

With the council’s final budget vote expected Aug. 4, Roy stressed the importance of having a budget approved so tax bills can be sent out to meet the city’s cash flow needs.

In other matters Tuesday, the council is scheduled to consider taking a first of two votes to repair the walking surface of Two Cent Plaza at Head of Falls, off Front Street.

The money would include $26,158 from a waterfront bond account, and funds from the capital improvement reserve account.

A bid has not yet been issued for the work, estimated to cost between $40,000 and $50,000.

The original plaza was completed in 2011 and damage to the pave-stoned walkway was probably caused by winter use of salt and the sidewalk plow, according to information given to councilors.

Vandalism also was done to the metal railing near the concrete steps.

The council is scheduled to consider a final vote to amend the zoning ordinance to add a solar farm district to the ordinance; a final vote to rezone part of Webb Road, from Rural Residential to Solar Farm District to allow for Roland Rossignol and NextGrid to construct a solar farm there; and a final vote to rezone part of County Road, from Rural Residential to Solar Farm District, to allow Kevin Violette of Holmes Farm Associates to build a solar farm.

The council is also expected to consider referring to the Planning Board for public hearing and recommendation a request to create a zoning district for mobile home parks.

Additionally, councilors are to consider:

• A final vote to amend the traffic ordinance to prohibit heavy trucks from parking at night on streets in the Residential-A and Residential-B zones.

• A final vote to accept a $40,290 award from the state Department of Health and Human Services to buy supplies for Fire Department staff for COVID-19-related activities. The award includes $29,290 to staff fire personnel from July 1 to Oct. 31, $10,000 for City Hall supplies and $1,000 in publication costs to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Ratifying a two-year contract with Firefighters Local 1608.

• Issuing marijuana retail licenses to Northwoods Farmacy, 107 College Ave., and Sweet Dirt, 475 Kennedy Memorial Drive.

• Issuing food licenses to Kentucky Fried Chicken, 444 Kennedy Memorial Drive, and Rusty Lantern Market, 288 West River Road.

• Amending and approving a previous lease with Vacationland Skydiving at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport. The business was unable to begin its lease, approved last spring, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and wants to move it to next year.

• Approving a resolution urging businesses to encourage customers and employees to wear face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Making appointments to the Kennebec Regional Diversity Initiative, a new organization seeking to engage the community in developing timely and achievable goals to prevent discrimination.

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