Waterville police officers recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Elks Lodge in Waterville in 2021. The Waterville City Council gave preliminary approval this week to a $56.34 million municipal and school budget for 2023-24. The city side of the budget includes an increase of about $450,000 in salaries for police command and patrol officers. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — The City Council this week took the first of two votes needed to approve a proposed $56.34 million municipal and school budget for 2023-24.

Increases on the municipal side of the budget are reflected in wages; increasing prices for fuel, gas, electricity and supplies caused by inflation; and jumps in salaries for nonunion employees.

The increase in police command and patrol officer salaries alone is about $450,000, and the council had approved that pay bump as part of union contracts. The increase for nonunion employees is about $140,000.

Councilors went into Tuesday’s meeting facing a proposed $58.48 million municipal and school budget, including a $28.2 million municipal budget, but acting City Manager Bill Post recommended cutting $397,986 from that total.

Cuts would come from delaying the starting dates for some new positions, eliminating a professional services contract in the finance department, eliminating an equipment operator position, eliminating all capital expenses and moving them to a bond and increasing by $575,780 the estimated revenues aside from property taxes.

The budget approved last year was $53.2 million. Before adjustments were made this week, the budget would have represented an increase of $5.2 million, but the council is now looking at a $4.8 million increase, according to Post.


The proposed $30.27 million school budget reflects a $1.8 million increase from the $28.4 million budget approved last year, with spending hikes reflected in salaries and benefits, motor fuel, fuel oil, electricity and liability insurance.

The Waterville Board of Education voted May 8 to approve the budget, but will take one more vote after the City Council finalizes its vote.

The change to Waterville’s current property tax rate of $25.85 per $1,000 in assessed valuation will not likely be known until the middle of August because the city will undergo a statistical revaluation that must be completed before the tax rate is set, according to Post.

He explained before Tuesday’s meeting that such a valuation is not the same as a regular one because the city assessor will not go to individual homes.

“It’s basically using data we have and updating based on market values,” Post said.

Post said in the 2022-23 budget, the city used $558,000 of one-time revenue, some of which was from federal American Rescue Plan Act money and some from capital surplus, so the city does not have that money to use this year.


He said the city is proposing some additional positions, most of which were requested last year, but were cut.

The positions include an executive assistant for the human resources department, which has had only one employee for years; an administrative position for the airport, who would help market the airport to generate more revenue; a community development officer, who would focus on creating a housing plan for the city, working with public and private developers and nonprofits to increase housing and work on grants and future programs; and an information technology technician.

The council must take one more vote on the proposed budget, which covers July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024.

In other matters Tuesday, city councilors took final votes to amend the city’s zoning ordinance to allow veterinary clinics in the Commercial-A District, and a request by Head of Falls Village, a housing complex proposed for Front and Temple streets downtown, to reduce the size of off-street parking spaces from 18.5 feet to 18 feet, and reduce the setback from rear and side property lines from not less than 5 feet to not less than 2 feet.

The veterinary clinic vote will allow Matt Townsend to open a veterinary clinic in the strip mall on Waterville Commons Drive.

The Head of Falls Village housing project includes plans for 91 parking spaces.

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