February 17, 2020
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Bangor budget doesn’t include funds for multicultural center, 4 firefighters

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Bangor City Hall

The city council Monday passed a $97.6 million budget that excludes funding for a multicultural center, more marketing for regional tourism and four firefighter positions.

The council unanimously voted to pass a budget without those items, the subject of debate at recent meetings, saying it didn’t know how much it will eventually get from the state.

“Revisiting those funding requests is going to depend on how we are affected in Augusta,” City Council Chairman Joe Baldacci said. “It makes more sense for us to do it this way than to make promises that we’re going to change, so it makes sense for us to see what happens with the Legislature.”

The vote came amid a state budget battle between legislative Democrats, Republicans and Gov. Paul LePage that threatens to shut down the state government.

The city budget takes effect on July 1 and represents a 2.3 percent increase from the previous year and sets the property tax rate at $22.71 per $1,000 in property valuation.

[MORE: What to expect if state government shuts down]

Bangor’s approved budget does not include a nearly $250,000 request to retain four firefighter positions that were previously funded through a federal grant, a move union leaders say could leave the fire department inadequately staffed when responding to calls.

John York, president of the union Bangor Professional Firefighters said he was assured by councilors they would discuss funding the positions once the state budget is approved.

“We’re disappointed that it wasn’t included initially, but they have said during budget workshops and the full council that they will revisit these items once they get a clear picture of what the state budget is going to look like,” York said.

The budget also excludes a $100,000 request to help the new Maine Multicultural Center integrate immigrants to the region, as well as an additional $60,000 requested by the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau to expand its regional tourism marketing services.

[MORE: Bangor City Council supports immigrant center]

Other requests left off the budget included an extra $13,871 to increase the cost-of-living adjustment for Bangor Public Library employees and $80,000 for more Department of Public Works preventive street maintenance work, said the city’s Finance Director Debbie Cyr.

There is no guarantee any of those funding requests will be added to the budget, and there is no particular amount of state funding Bangor would need to receive that would allow the council to add any or all of those requests, Cyr said.

Kerrie Tripp, executive director of the Greater Bangor CVB, declined comment Thursday. Faircloth said several other councilors have expressed interest in providing funding this year for the multicultural center, an initiative for which he has advocated.


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