Rockland manager unveils city budget with staff cuts

Posted April 23, 2014, at 7:57 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The city will not fill vacant positions including fire chief, a reference librarian and a half-time assistant to the city manager under a proposed 2014-2015 budget unveiled Wednesday night by the interim city manager.

The $10.7 million budget for 2014-2015 is down $135,000 from this year’s budget. The proposed spending package would result in no change in the city tax rate due to the municipal budget.

The rate could increase, however, because of the proposed Regional School Unit 13 budget, which calls for an additional $230,000 in property taxes from Rockland. The school board will meet Monday evening to act on its proposed budget, which calls for cutting 10 jobs.

The municipal budget unveiled Wednesday night would not fill the fire chief job being vacated next week with the departure of Charles Jordan Jr. Interim City Manager Tom Luttrell has appointed Adam Miceli, an assistant chief, to be interim fire chief. Over the next six months, Luttrell is asking the council to allow him to study the creation of a public safety director who would oversee both the police and fire departments.

“If council accepts this idea, we will create a job description and review the make up of the police and fire departments to make sure we have the right structure in place to run both departments with one individual,” Luttrell said in his budget message to the council.

The city manager’s assistant job has been vacant for the past year after it was reduced to half-time and the employee resigned. The reference librarian position became vacant during the past year.

Last year, after state revenue sharing was cut, the council eliminated an emergency medical technician position, a library technician, a Public Works Department secretary post, and a vacant Police Department patrol officer position. Two full-time positions — assistant to the city manager and general assistance administrator — were reduced to part time.

The proposed 2014-2015 budget includes 3 percent raises for employees, a 20 percent increase in retirement contributions, and a 10 percent increase in health insurance costs.

The largest account in the municipal budget is the Police Department, proposed at nearly $2 million, a 3 percent increase. The Fire Department is proposed at slightly more than $1.5 million, a 2 percent decrease. The public works budget is proposed at nearly $1.6 million, up 2 percent. Debt repayment is budgeted at nearly $1.2 million, unchanged from 2013-2014.

The council will begin its review of the manager’s recommendations on Monday night. The budget is expected to be voted on for adoption during the final full week of June.

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