Proposed service cuts irk Brewer residents

Posted May 17, 2010, at 11:39 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Proposed cuts to services designed to balance the budget have upset some residents, Mayor Arthur “Archie” Verow said on Monday. The proposed cuts included discontinuing side street snowplowing at night and changing to a pay-as-you-throw trash program.

“I know there may be comments on the proposed changes in service” at tonight’s budget hearing, he said.

The municipal and school budgets will be presented to residents and the City Council at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Verow said several residents have approached him with concerns about the municipal cuts, and some have said they would be willing to pay more in taxes if the services could continue.

The projected $11.7 million municipal budget for 2011 is about $350,000, or 2.9 percent, less than last year and maintains the property tax rate at $17.95 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the third year.

The proposed cuts to the budget include slashing four full-time municipal jobs, one administrative position in the police department, and one post in Public Works, the library and the finance office, Finance Director Karen Fussell said last week.

Those in combination with eliminating a part-time position in the assessing office would save approximately $150,000. Another $20,000 is saved by chopping five part-time seasonal positions, and $31,000 would be saved by eliminating the annual spring cleanup.

Stopping nighttime snowplowing, between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., on side streets is expected to save $16,000 in one year, Fussell said in a memo to councilors.

“Crews will maintain coverage of main roads and be available to plow side streets if needed to provide access for emergency vehicles,” she states. “We recognize the council may revisit this policy if the change proves to be impracticable or not cost effective.”

Implementing a pay-as-you-throw trash program, as well as biweekly single-stream recycling, will reduce city costs, and would spread the remaining cost burden “more equitably among residents,” Fussell wrote.

Single-stream recycling involves having all recyclable material collected in one place and then shipped to a separate facility where it is sorted.

Communities that have single-stream recycling typically see increased recycling rates, she said, and it should result in reduced waste volume. The pay-as-you-throw trash program would not begin until 2011.

“This will provide a new stream of revenue to the city that will help offset the city’s cost of refuse and recycling collection,” Fussell states.

City councilors are expected to accept the budget at tonight’s meeting, then will take it up again at their June 1 meeting.

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