PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — While the city is considering a budget that has increased over last year, City Manager Tom Stevens said the total figure was reduced significantly because of several factors and could drop a bit more before the budget is finished.
This year’s proposed $10.4 million municipal budget is up $126,400 over last year’s.
The city held the first of two public hearings on the budget Monday evening. The second public hearing will take place Monday, Dec. 21.
“This is certainly a trying time to do budgets,” Stevens said earlier this week. “But we were able to make reductions in some areas and institute other strategies to make sure that the taxpayers did not see a huge increase at a time when the economy is still in distress.”
Stevens said the strategies included reducing capital expenses and eliminating positions at the city’s police department, including the parking enforcement officer.
“We also saved money by holding vacant positions open longer and we have reduced our energy costs,” he added, noting that one such energy savings measure this year was that fuel use at the Mark and Emily Turner Library is down because a new roof was constructed. “We have really concentrated on making our buildings more energy-efficient in the past few years, and that has paid off.”
Stevens acknowledged that the cost of fuel oil and gas has increased in the past few years, driving up the city’s overall budget.
This year, that wasn’t a significant factor, he said.
“Fuel oil and gas prices have stabilized a bit,” he said. “There is not that same volatility that there was in the past, so that helped us when putting the budget together as well.”
Stevens said city officials did everything they could to put forth as low a budget as possible while retaining core services.
“The economy is still recovering, but I feel that we have weathered the storm quite well,” he said. “It is hard to see what 2010 and 2011 will bring, but I feel the city is well poised to deal with it.”