The proposed city, school and county budget in Hallowell would increase property taxes by about 25%, prompting city councilors to say they need to make spending cuts. Above, Hallowell City Hall, photographed in March 2016. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

HALLOWELL — The proposed city, school and county budget would increase property taxes by about 25%, prompting Hallowell city councilors to say they need to make cuts to reduce the impact on taxpayers.

At-Large Councilor Maureen AuCoin Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

City councilors Monday night discussed a proposed city budget of about $3.6 million.

Several councilors expressed surprise at the proposed jump in taxes, and said it would be too much to ask of residents and other property owners.

“Twenty-five percent is way too much to ask of taxpayers,” At-Large Councilor Maureen AuCoin said, adding that the situation shows her that councilors need tax assessment information sooner in the budget process. “We didn’t receive this until almost July. We should have known this earlier so we could be a little further along in the process.”

Councilors delayed the third and final reading and vote on the budget Monday. Instead, elected officials will target a vote July 22, according to Ward 1 Councilor Kate Dufour, chairperson of the Finance Committee.

Between now and then, they must come up with potential budget cuts to lessen the impact on property owners.


“This is a stark reality,” Dufour said. “We have to start digging in and making some cuts. This is not a nickel-and-dime kind of approach. These are big numbers coming out of that budget.”

She said the current year’s municipal budget is about $3.1 million.

Hallowell Mayor George Lapointe Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Councilors discussed goals of cutting between $300,000 and $1 million from the municipal budget, though most agreed cutting $1 million from a budget of $3.6 million seems unrealistic.

With a $400,000 cut, taxpayers would still be looking at a substantial increase.

Dufour said if the budget were trimmed from $3.6 million to $3.2 million, the owner of an average-valued $255,000 home in Hallowell would likely see a property tax increase of about $1,500.

Mayor George LaPointe said that would be about a 20% tax hike.


The municipal budget, at $3.2 million, would represent a 7% increase. Taxpayers’ total tax bill, however, would increase by about 20%, when Hallowell’s share of the $29.9 million Regional School Unit 2 budget, up about 7%, and Kennebec County’s $23.3 million budget, up about 28%, are factored in.

At-Large Councilor Walter F. McKee said councilors need to pick a tax rate to target and then look at what cuts could be made to get to that figure.

At-Large Councilor Walter F. McKee Submitted photo

“This is work we need to do,” McKee said. “It’s time to make hard decisions.”

New positions or items proposed to be in the budget next year include a second deputy city clerk position that was left vacant this year, and a new economic development director position, which has been discussed extensively, but not yet decided upon, according to City Manager Gary Lamb.

LaPointe suggested using some of the city’s remaining American Recovery Plan Act funding to pay for some items now funded by the budget, such as $100,000 for paving. He also said the city could take $50,000 more from its reserve funds to help offset the impact on taxpayers.

Hallowell might also be able to fund items now in the budget with revenues generated through tax increment financing agreements in the city.

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