Millinocket looking at no-tax-growth budget

Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue
Nick Sambides | BDN
Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue
Posted March 29, 2012, at 9:52 p.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — A projected property tax reduction of about $83,000 means town taxpayers could pay the same or slightly less in property taxes next year, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said Thursday.

With the Town Council due to start reviewing his proposed budget and the mill rate due to be made final in October, the figures and their impact are far from certain but they look good at this point, Conlogue said.

“We are trying to hold the line on taxes and the mill rate but we can’t guarantee what the mill rate would be at this point,” he said Thursday.

This year’s mill rate, 25.6 mills, could decrease by three-tenths of a mill, he said. A 25.6 mill rate means that a homeowner with a $100,000 property would pay $2,560 in property taxes annually.

Town Council members held their first budget workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday and more are scheduled for April 3, April 4 and April 10. Councilors generally were pleased with Conlogue’s budget presentation on March 22.

Conlogue praised councilors and his department managers for their frugality.

“It is a real accomplishment here for everybody because of where we have been,” he said in reference to last year’s budget crunch, which forced the layoff of a half-dozen full- and part-time employees.

“There are no proposals to eliminate any other positions before the town this year,” Conlogue told councilors. “I am really pleased to tell you that because as you recall we had quite a problem with that a year ago. At this point all positions are funded.”

Councilors Jimmy Busque and Gilda Stratton said they hoped that the savings could produce enough extra funding to get more streets and sidewalks paved or repaired.

“Our sidewalks and streets are in dire straits,” Stratton said.

“We can see our streets are in disrepair,” Busque said. “It is getting to the point where we need to do something.”

Council Chairman John Davis suggested using more of the town’s reserve funds to repair streets. He dismissed auditors’ warnings that dipping into those accounts too much could threaten the town’s credit rating.

“I agree that we need to have a surplus,” Davis said, but “I have never seen one [auditor] that said it was enough.”

The council’s first public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. May 10 at the Town Hall.

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