WATERVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday took a final vote to approve a $62 million municipal, school and county operating budget for 2025 that represents an estimated increase of less than 1% over the current spending plan.

City Manager Bryan Kaenrath estimated that with the approved budget, the increase in the current tax rate of $19.90 will be about 15 cents, making it $20.05 per $1,000 worth of assessed property value. A final tax rate will be calculated in July.

So, for instance, a person who owns a $100,000 home and paid $1,990 in taxes would pay $2,005, or a $15 increase with the new budget.

The council took an initial vote to approve the budget on June 4. Councilors began discussions about the budget Tuesday with a proposal that would increase the tax rate by 30 or 40 cents per $1,000. But Council Chairwoman Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, and Councilor Ken Gagnon, D-Ward 5, separately proposed amendments that would reduce the proposal by $172,000.

The council unanimously approved Green’s amendment to reduce the administrative budget by $80,000 in light of the fact that Assistant City Manager Bill Post is leaving his job Thursday. That money, she said, can be applied to the department to create a position that is not an assistant city manager position, but a special assistant position that would fulfill city needs and support the city manager, but for lesser pay.

Resident Nancy Sanford said she wanted to know what Kaenrath thought about such a change. Kaenrath said he presented the council with a number of options in administration and no matter what the council decided, “we’ll make it work and go forward.”


“This is not going to impact all the great things that are happening here,” Kaenrath said.

Then Gagnon made a motion to increase the amount of revenue the city anticipates it will receive in three areas — fire emergency medical services, code enforcement, and excise taxes, for a total increase of $92,000.

Kaenrath said Gagnon’s proposal would add $16,000 to the anticipated revenue line for fire EMS, $12,000 to code enforcement revenue line and $64,000 to excise. Kaenrath said that, of the three areas, he was most comfortable with the idea that revenues may be higher in the excise tax line than the city anticipates but the revenues might not hit the amounts Gagnon estimated in the other two lines.

Green asked what would happen if the city doesn’t hit Gagnon’s estimated revenues. The city’s finance director, Christina Therrien, said the proposed budget already is using $2.4 million of the city’s fund balance and over the last five years, the city has not used more than $2 million from that surplus fund each year.

“There may be less fund balance to use toward the fund balance next year, so just be aware,” Therrien said.

Some councilors were wary of Gagnon’s proposed amendment. Councilor Thomas Klepach, D-Ward 3, said he could go along with the idea this fiscal year to see how the approach works, but he thought it was tantamount to wishing money into existence that may or may not be there.


“There is a risk of taking this approach for the sake of maintaining the illusion that taxes cannot ever go up as the cost of everything around us goes up,” Klepach said.

Councilor Tom McCormick, an independent councilor who represents Ward 7, said he would vote to approve the amendment, but was leery of the proposal if estimated revenues don’t come though. “I promise it’s going to be ugly,” he said.

The approved budget includes $28.4 million for the municipal budget, $32.3 million for schools and $1.35 million for Kennebec County.

Cost increases from last year to this year are reflected in fuel, vehicle parts, maintenance, personnel and other city needs, with personnel representing the largest expense, and increases built into labor contracts.

The council Tuesday also voted to take a second, final vote to borrow $4.9 million for capital projects that includes $100,000 for a downtown vision project; $100,000 for a beautification project that includes trees and streetscapes; $270,000 for an EMS ambulance remount; $255,500 for a network update and redesign for the city’s information technology department; $30,000 for an exterior building assessment for the library; $150,000 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement at the library; $80,000 for two, wide-area mowers for parks and recreation; $800,000 for citywide street and sidewalk paving; $2.95 million for street and sidewalk reconstruction citywide; and $265,000 for a single-axle dump-plow truck.

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