Bangor council holds off on funding police body cameras in new $104.4 million budget

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Bangor City Hall
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The Bangor City Council passed a $104.4 million city spending plan on Monday night that includes grant funding for a homeless outreach case worker, more than $4 million in infrastructure upgrades and funding for the Bangor School Department.
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The Bangor City Council passed a $104.4 million city spending plan on Monday night that includes grant funding for a homeless outreach case worker, more than $4 million in infrastructure upgrades and funding for the Bangor School Department.

But the plan approved by councilors did not include about $175,000 in funding for the Bangor Police Department to buy body cameras for its police officers, as was proposed in an earlier version of the budget.

[Bangor budget proposes money for police body cameras, new homeless outreach worker]

While the city is still considering developing such a program in the future, councilors had concerns about the costs and the privacy issues it would present at this point, Councilor Ben Sprague said before the meeting.

The new spending plan is up 3.6 percent from the current year’s $100.8 million plan and will require $57.6 million in local property taxes to be raised.

The council passed the budget in a 6-1 vote after just a brief discussion. Councilors Gretchen Schaefer and Cary Weston did not attend the meeting.

The new spending plan will lift the city’s annual property tax rate by just 0.2 percent, from $22.95 per $1,000 of valuation to $23 per $1,000 of valuation. That means the owner of a home with the median Bangor value of $151,100 would pay $3,475 in annual property taxes under the new rate, or about $8 more than last year.

Two members of the council, Sprague and Council Chairwoman Sarah Nichols, both said that was the smallest tax rate increase they’ve seen since they’ve been on the council.

Numerous councilors said they were grateful that the portion of the state’s income and sales tax revenue that will go to Maine towns and cities increased from 2 to 3.75 percent under the two-year budget recently passed by the Legislature.

However, that’s still shy of the 5 percent threshold that’s set in Maine law but that the state has not honored for many years.

Just one city councilor who was present for the meeting, David Nealley, opposed the budget. While he praised city officials for their efforts to put it together, he voted against it, he said, to send a message to state lawmakers that they should restore revenue sharing to the full 5 percent.

One large increase increase in the municipal budget proposed by City Manager Cathy Conlow was an additional $696,393 for health insurance premiums.

 



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