City manager asks for up to 5% reduction scenarios for all departments

Posted May 09, 2009, at 12:45 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine— City Manager Edward Barrett has asked all of his department heads to draft two scenarios that would decrease their proposed budgets for next year by 2.5 percent and 5 percent.

As they continue discussions over the 2010 Fiscal Year budget, Bangor city councilors face increasingly difficult choices, particularly as the amount of revenue sharing from the state continues to drop.

When initial budget talks began last month, Barrett anticipated a 10 percent decrease in revenue sharing from the state. The most recent economic forecast out of Augusta, however, suggests the drop will be closer to 15 percent.

That reality, combined with a majority of councilors’ wishes to keep the city’s tax rate flat at $19.05 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, has created a hole.

“We’re planning ahead,” Barrett said of his request to departments to trim their budgets. “Each department knows best where potential cuts can be made, however difficult it may be.”

The city will not officially vote on the 2010 budget until early June, which would be after the state finalizes its budget, but cuts will almost certainly be made. It’s just a matter of where.

“There has never been an economy like this in my lifetime,” Councilor David Nealley said. “We’re so dependent on state and federal programs and funding, it doesn’t leave a lot of flexibility.”

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