OLD TOWN, Maine — After listening to concerns of residents, the Old Town City Council avoided making drastic cuts to programs people lobbied to keep.
The recreation department, for which more than a dozen people stood in support during a council meeting earlier this month, will be privatized in order to save the city money, City Manager Bill Mayo said on Wednesday.
The city faces more than a $1 million shortfall in next year’s budget due to cuts in state revenue sharing and lost revenue from the Juniper Ridge Landfill.
The current budget for Old Town is $8.4 million, while the proposed budget for next year is $8.6 million.
Mayo said Old Town has a revenue decrease of $516,390, plus a proposed total increase of $274,082 for the city, school and county budgets. There’s also a projected loss of $264,040 from cutbacks in state revenue sharing for a total of $1,054,512.
A 5 percent increase in the tax rate would recover $440,000, but the city would still need to cut services and/or personnel to make up the remaining $614,512. Old Town’s mill rate is currently $18.69 per $1,000 of property value. Next year, it should jump to $19.52.
One of the proposals for helping bridge that gap was cutting the recreation program.
The recreation department costs $257,000 to operate, but takes in $180,000 in revenue for a net loss of $77,000, according to budget figures.
“We went back and looked at all of these revenues,” Mayo said.
The recreation department can cut $47,000 from its budget next year by increasing fees for services. The afterschool program will have a $2 per day increase, making up $22,000 over the course of a year. The rest of the figure will come from new program fees and increases of other fees.
The library will sustain a $41,667 cut. A finance clerk position will be cut. An economic development position will be funded out of the city’s economic development fund. The Juniper Ridge Landfill reserve fund will be tapped for a total of $193,234.
The city pool will also be cost-shared among RSU 34, the Old Town YMCA and the city.
“All three of these entities become partners in operating the pool,so it will spread out the cost,” said Mayo.
The adjustments and revenue total $338,266.
A council meeting was held Monday, during which the council unanimously voted in favor of the changes to the budget during the first reading, Mayo said.
A second reading of the budget will be at 6:30 p.m., Monday, July 29 in the Old Town City Council chambers. The budget can be adopted at the meeting.
“I don’t foresee any major changes happening [during the meeting],” Mayo said.