Bath council to vote next week on $15.6M city budget

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BATH — The City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday, June 1, on a $15.6 million budget for fiscal 2017.

The panel that evening will also make a final decision about whether to borrow up to $1.9 million for  vehicles, equipment and infrastructure improvements.

General fund operating expenses continue to rise, while non-tax revenues have stayed flat, Finance Director Juli Millett stated in her annual budget message.

Thanks to funding landfill environmental projects from tax increment financing revenues, and funding sewer capital through a new voter-approved sewer bond, next year’s budget shows a decrease of about $361,000 from current spending, she explained.

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, Millett said.

With $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 have a $110 increase, although residents benefiting from a new Homestead exemption, reducing their primary home’s value by $5,000, could see savings of $108, according to Millett.

The City Council on May 18 unanimously granted first passage to bonding up to $1.9 million toward a police vehicle, a leaf vacuum, a cemetery truck, the Zorach Fountain and Library Park pond, and the Riverwalk. The expenses total $2.3 million, of which up to $1.9 million would be bonded, with a down payment from the city covering the remaining $415,000.

That down payment is included in the fiscal 2017 budget.

The council will vote a second and final time on the bonding at its June 1 meeting, which takes place at City Hall at 6 p.m.

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.