GARDINER — With little fanfare and no public comment, Gardiner officials endorsed a $7.5 million spending plan Wednesday for the budget year that begins July 1.

“Thank you all; we have a budget,” City Manager Andrew Carlton said at the end of the meeting. “It’s nice to know we’re going to start July 1 ready to go.”

Not long after that approval, though, the Gardiner City Council was updated on several projects that surfaced as city officials were deliberating spending requests. Councilors also heard a presentation about the need for a sweeper and vacuum truck that is not in the budget.

The May 1 storm that dropped 5 inches or more of rain across central Maine washed out an embankment under Harrison Avenue, undercutting the roadway. While cost estimates have been submitted to the Maine Emergency Management Agency as part of a possible federal emergency declaration, Carlton said city officials will not know for a while whether the project qualifies for funding.

At the same time, a second round of proposals to repair a failing sewer line on Church Street, which was discovered in May, are due Thursday. The first round was rejected because it generated one bid.

Carlton laid out a case for buying the special purpose truck by saying the city would pay more over time for renting separate vehicles to sweep streets and clear stormwater basins than it would pay in a lease-purchase arrangement. And, he said, the city’s current sweeper is running on borrowed time.


John Cameron, director of the Gardiner Department of Public Works, said his department now has to source parts for the 15-year-old sweeper from eBay, and that source is drying up.

The new truck would be expected to cost about $270,000, with the first payment not due until the next fiscal year.

The fiscal 2024 budget, which was presented in April to the Gardiner City Council, reflects what are needed to run the city, Carlton said when he first unveiled the spending plan.

Despite the bite of inflation that reached 9% a year ago, the increase in spending in the fiscal 2024 budget came in at nearly 4%.

The bulk of the increase comes from wages and benefits, much of which are set in negotiated contracts with the city’s unions. Other increases were built in for computers, equipment and professional services.

City officials used $163,000 of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for vehicles, a new telephone system for the city, furniture for the Gardiner Fire Department and book drops for the Gardiner Public Library. That decision kept those purchases from being paid for through property tax revenue.

The revenue to pay for the spending plan will come from property tax collected, license and permit fees; intergovernmental transfers, such as revenue sharing from the state of Maine; and the use of the unassigned fund balance. The fund balance is in many respects like a savings account.

While the city’s budget is expected to add 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to residents’ property tax bills, the $30 million budget for the Gardiner-based school district that voters approved Tuesday is expected to add $1.35 to the property tax rate. The third component of the city’s property tax bills, the assessment for Kennebec County government, is expected to add 5 cents to the tax rate.

While the final property tax rate will not be calculated until mid-summer, these increases are expected to increase the city’s property tax rate — now $22.20 per $1,000 of assessed valuation — to $23.80 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

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