EASTPORT, Maine — Faced with more proposed state budget cuts, it gets harder and harder for municipalities to hold the line on spending, but this seaside community is trying to do just that.
The proposed $1.6 million municipal budget is in line with last year’s, but the numbers for the 2009-10 school budget remain unknown.
City Manager George “Bud” Finch said the city’s mill rate is expected to remain the same as last year.
“This point in time it appears we can hold the line on the mill rate,” he said. The city’s mill rate is $20.20 per $1,000 valuation.
Finch said preparing the budget this year was a challenge.
“The budget process is made very difficult this year by the unknowns in revenue from the state, particularly the educational side of the budget,” he said. “We have done all we can on the municipal side to hold the line, and I believe wholeheartedly the staff in all departments can continue to provide the quality service they provide and can be within the budget proposed unless further bad economic times fall on us in terms of revenue.”
School Union 104 Superintendent Terry Lux said Tuesday that she still hasn’t heard what the city’s state subsidy will be. “The last I heard from the Department [of Education], we are not supposed to get [the figures] until the end of March,” she said.
Finch said he understood the dilemma Lux faces. “I know that Terry Lux is working very diligently to try to hold the [line] also,” he said.
Lux and Finch hope to present their proposed budgets to the City Council in May.
Finch said that if further reductions are needed, it would be up to the council to make that policy decision in terms of service and personnel.
Finch was so concerned about state budget cuts that he testified before the Legislature’s Appropriation and Financial Affairs Committee earlier this month and asked them not to approve the 10 percent cut in municipal revenue sharing proposed by Gov. John Baldacci.
“With projected cuts in state revenue already expected to drop by 10 percent or more, the additional cut of 10 percent in the municipality share would make this a potential hit of more than 20 percent,” he said he told the committee.