Bath City Council OKs $15.6M municipal budget

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a $15.6 million budget for fiscal 2017.

The panel also unanimously voted a second and final time to borrow up to $1.9 million for vehicles, equipment and infrastructure improvements. The bond issue received preliminary approval May 18.

The council, which approved the budget without discussion as part of its consent agenda, held a public hearing on the spending plan May 18.

General fund operating expenses continue to rise, while non-tax revenues have stayed flat, according to Finance Director Juli Millett.

Funding landfill environmental projects from tax increment financing revenue, and paying for sewer capital through a new voter-approved sewer bond, has produced a reduction in next year’s budget of about $361,000 from current spending, she added.

City taxes – offset by proceeds from the city’s sale of the Huse School and new tax value in Bath – are projected to increase 1.11 percent, to reach $8.6 million. Professional and fire hydrant fees, as well as insurances and fire training, contributed to the hike, according to Millett.

Including $1.7 million in Sagadahoc County taxes (down 0.12 percent) and $9.7 million in Regional School Unit 1 taxes (up 1.66 percent), the city’s projected tax total is nearly $20 million, an increase of 2.66 percent.

A home valued at $200,000 would see a $110 increase, although residents benefiting from a new Homestead exemption, reducing their primary home’s value by $5,000, could actually see savings of $108, Millett explained.

The City Council on May 18 unanimously granted first passage to borrow up to $1.9 million for a police vehicle, a cemetery truck, a leaf vacuum, the Zorach Fountain and Library Park pond, and the Riverwalk. The expenses total $2.3 million; the $415,000 down payment on the bond was included in the fiscal 2017 budget.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.