May 21, 2018
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Cuts in state revenue pinch Belfast budget

By Walter Griffin

BELFAST, Maine — With the public hearing on the proposed $8.7 million budget for the coming year set for Thursday night, city coffers already are smarting from additional unexpected cuts in state revenues.

City Manager Joseph Slocum learned last week that $75,000 in state funds he planned to apply to the budget would not be forthcoming. Those cuts came after the $80,000 the state already had reduced from the coming year’s allocation. The state gave the city $800,00 last year and will provide $750,000 next year.

Slocum said tight finances in Augusta have a ripple effect down to the communities and ultimately fall on the taxpayer.

“They are cutting us close to $170,000 in state aid,” Slocum said last week. “It’s called municipal revenue sharing, but if they aren’t getting the revenue, they can’t share it.”

Slocum said the additional cuts would result in a slight increase to the proposed $8,776,694 municipal budget. The budget is $112,479 lower than last year’s budget.

“We thought we would be $100,000 under what we asked for last year, but we won’t,” he said. “We’re still going to be under, but not as much.”

The public hearing on the budget will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 18, at the City Council chambers on Church Street. The hearing also will be broadcast on Channel 7, the city’s local community cable television outlet.

After deducting projected revenues of $4,058,611 from excise taxes, ambulance receipts, investments, sewer fees and other sources, the bottom line to property owners will be $3,942,231 to be raised through next year’s taxes.

Factoring in the county tax bite and the city’s projected share of the RSU 20 school budget, Slocum said he expected next year’s mill rate to fall in the range of $18.30 per each $1,000 in valuation. The current mill rate is $18.60 per $1,000.

Among the major accounts in the proposed spending package are:

• Administration and finance departments, $1,722,23, a decrease of $60,823 from last year.

• Fire Department, $183,850, a decrease of $300.

• Police Department, $853,595, an increase of $32,665.

• Street and traffic lights, $96,200, a decrease of $6,800.

ä Hydrant rental, $345,000, an increase of $30,000.

• Public works, $1,167925, an increase of $50,275.

• Transfer station, $298,110, a decrease of $42,198.

• Road construction, $398,000, an increase of $10,000.

• Social services, $249,404, an increase of $35,994.

• Parks and recreation, $170,471, a decrease of $20,639.

• Belfast Free Library, $403,569, an increase of $3,366.

• Cemetery, $99,500, an increase of $500.

• Harbor department, $111,215, an increase of $3,360.

• Planning and zoning, $168,711, a decrease of $24,850.

• Debt service, $604,520, a decrease of $6,180.

• Capital projects, $398,000, a decrease of $96,500.

• Municipal insurance, $228,918, an increase of $5,500.

The City Council has scheduled a special meeting for adoption of the 2009-10 budget at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, at City Hall.


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