GARDINER — With some adjustments to spending and revenue, Gardiner city officials have revised the proposed budget to keep the city’s property tax rate flat for the coming fiscal year.

“It’s not a flat budget,” Mayor Patricia Hart said. “We did increase people’s salaries, and we are doing a lot of things.”

So while the budget as now proposed has increased to about $7.34 million, the impact on taxpayers is lessened by the state’s paying its full share of revenue sharing, by using the fund balance, and by the increasing valuation of city property.

“We took it upon ourselves to anticipate you were not going the be thrilled with above a $1 increase” in the tax rate, Anne Davis, acting city manager, said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, following the review of the city’s ambulance and wastewater treatment enterprise funds, tax increment finance districts and revenue.

When the spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 was first proposed, it would have added 80 cents to the city’s share of the property tax rate, bringing it from the current $21.70 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $22.50. That would add $117.73 to the annual property tax bill for a house in Gardiner with the median value of $146,000.

With estimates for the Gardiner-area school district and Kennebec County, which make up the balance of property tax bills, the total projected increase was calculated to be $23.10 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, adding $205.32 to the annual tax bill for a median value home.


The changes to spending included shifting some purchases, including new election booths, to the current fiscal year, and making outright cuts in other areas, totaling $78,650.

City officials also opted to tap the undesignated fund balance for $200,000 more to reduce the impact of spending on taxpayers.

“This is great,” At-large City Councilor Tim Cusick said. “I know we had each other’s heads spinning last week, trying to figure out what we can do.”

Davis said the revised budget was the work of the city’s department heads. Because Andrew Carlton, Gardiner’s new city manager, will start in June, Davis said he also took part in the discussion.

She also cautioned that relying on the fund balance to this degree in future years is not advisable. The fund balance, which is like a savings account for the city government, is replenished annually when all money allocated in the city budget is not spent, but it is never clear how much will be returned to the fund.

“We budget as closely as we can, but we can’t foresee the future,” interim Finance Director Denise Brown said. “In 13 years, there hasn’t been a year when we haven’t put money back in the fund balance, although one year it was only $15,000.”

While city officials extended an invitation for residents to provide their thoughts on the proposed budget at Wednesday’s meeting, no one did.

The City Council is scheduled to hold its first of two public hearings on the proposed budget at its meeting Wednesday, June 1. Councilors are also expected to take a first vote on the spending plan at that meeting.

The second public hearing and final vote on the budget are scheduled for Wednesday, June 22.

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