Hallowell’s proposed $7.7 million budget includes funding for a new public works position, a plow truck and an excavator. It also includes funding for the city’s first payment on a loan used to purchase land for a new public works facility. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

HALLOWELL – City councilors are scheduled to take a third, and potentially final, vote Monday on a $7.7 million budget that would add a new public works position, allow Hallowell to purchase a plow truck and excavator and make its first payment on a loan used to purchase land for a new public works facility.

Gary Lamb Contributed photo

The $7,700,078 spending plan is up 4.21% from last year’s budget and would require the largest property tax increase in at least a decade, at a projected 9.2% increase, officials said.

At $23.20 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, the proposed tax increase would add $263.64 in taxes for the owner of a home with the median value of $219,700.

Residents have suggested selling the old fire station on Second Street and collaborating with neighboring towns on certain services to save money and lower taxes, with at least one councilor also voicing concerns about the possible tax impact.

Town Manager Gary Lamb said the new public works position would cost the city $63,231, including $17,000 in benefits.

“It’s a full-time, permanent position and everybody on the council knows there is plenty of work to do,” he said. “We need more help in wintertime also. It’s expensive — we know that — but everybody wants it because we need to get more work done.”


There are currently four public works employees. Officials have discussed not adding a fifth position until the next budget year.

The proposed budget also would allocate $165,000 for a plow truck and $125,000 for a new excavator, which Lamb said the city needs because, so far, it has been renting an excavator on hourly rates from one of its employees.

The budget includes $63,350 to be paid as the first installment of a five-year loan used to purchase property on Pinnacle Drive, where the city plans to build a new public works facility.

City officials are also planning to spend $40,000 paid through $4,000 installments for 10 years to buy and conserve roughly 7 acres of vacant, forested land from the Army National Guard and add hiking and biking trails. That land is off Beacon Street, south of the Manchester-Hallowell town line.

Scrapped from this year’s budget were proposals to add an assistant clerk, daytime staffing at the fire station on weekdays, a pickup truck for the fire department and funding for cemetery maintenance.

City councilors could take steps on Monday to limit the tax impact before voting on the municipal budget. They could cut down on spending, find other sources of revenue and use some of the undesignated fund balance to lessen the amount to be raised through taxes.


“I can only speak for myself and not on behalf of other councilors or the Finance Committee, but I feel the current estimated tax rate is too high a burden on our property owners,” said Councilor Maureen AuCoin. “I feel we have some work to do to find a way to fund the services most important to residents while keeping taxes as low as we can.”

Maureen AuCoin Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

AuCoin urged residents to voice any concerns at or before Monday’s council meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

“As a City Council, one of the most important things we can do is listen to our constituents,” she said. “I’m encouraging Hallowell residents to contact me directly or bring comments to the meeting.”

The spending plan being voted on covers expenses for the budget year that began July 1 and runs through June 30, 2024. Hallowell has, for many years, finalized its municipal budget in August, after the fiscal year has begun.

Monday’s meeting is scheduled to be broadcast live over Zoom and be open to remote participation. Technical issues have prevented virtual participation during at least two recent meetings, including the latest council meeting on Aug. 7 and the second of three budget readings on July 24.

Councilors unanimously voted to table the second budget reading because people could not access the meeting virtually.

The second reading was held again on Aug. 7 with equipment failure leading to no remote access, which officials notified residents of beforehand.

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