Giroux to resign as Bath city manager

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BATH — Bill Giroux, city manager for 11 years, announced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting that he will step down from the position July 6.

His announcement came after the City Council approved the fiscal 2018 budget.

Giroux said he informed councilors and staff of his decision on June 2.

“I’ve been telling people that I’m not retiring,” the 57-year-old Bath resident said, “because I fully intend after a year or so to get back into the business, or in some other business. I have a chance to do some traveling, stuff that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. … I think before I take the next gig I should take a break.”

Giroux’s 30-year career in government includes time in Brunswick, Portland and Wells. He was manager of Bowdoinham before coming to Bath.

“I feel like it’s a good time for me to make an exit,” he said, praising initiatives taking place in Bath, and adding “this community won’t let itself fail.”

“I think I’ve had a good run,” Giroux said, “and I’ve added the value that I think I can add. And it’s time for someone else to take the helm.”

Giroux said his decision was difficult because he had a “fantastic” city staff, as well as “great” City Council. “I appreciate your dedication to the city,” he told the councilors, “and what I call ‘everybody rowing in the right direction.'”

Councilors returned the favor. Chairwoman Mari Eosco said the news hit the council “like a ton of bricks,” noting that “we are in a better place because Bill has been at the helm.”

Longtime Councilor James Omo told Giroux “it was a good time; I had a lot of fun hiring you. … It’s sad to see you go.”

The City Council will determine Giroux’s replacement, and will likely appoint an interim manager during the search process, Giroux said.

Budget

The council unanimously approved a $15.7 million municipal budget for fiscal 2018.

After holding a hearing May 17 on the spending plan that drew no members of the public, the council adopted a slate of individual budget categories all at once as part of its consent agenda.

Councilors also unanimously approved borrowing up to $621,000 to fund several capital improvement items.

With municipal, county and school taxes combined, Bath’s total projected property tax increase for the budget year that begins July 1 is 1.9 percent – an increase of less than $379,000.

A nearly $151,000 addition in the municipal budget is due to salary and benefit increases, as well as the first bond payment for wastewater system upgrades, a $9.8 million project voters approved in November 2015.

A shift in capital expenses, due in part to funding the city landfill through a $3.8 million landfill bond approved by voters last November, is offsetting the spending increase.

The general fund could grow $133,000 to $10.5 million, while the capital and landfill funds could shrink nearly $113,000 and about $103,000 to $885,000 and $1.8 million, respectively. The sewer fund could rise nearly $237,000 to $2.2 million, which reflects the wastewater system bond.

Of the $15.7 million city budget, $8.7 million could be paid through taxes, an increase of 0.73 percent. Sagadahoc County taxes are $1.7 million, up 0.37 percent, and Regional School Unit 1 taxes could grow 1.81 percent, to reach $10.1 million.

Total property taxes could have increased 2.91 percent. But the city is reducing the real estate allocation to its Wing Farm tax increment financing district, which frees up about $200,000 to put toward reducing taxes. The tax increase has consequently been shaved to 1.9 percent.

As a result, Bath’s current tax rate of $21.10 per $1,000 of property valuation would rise to $21.50. A $200,000 home would see an $80 increase, although a home in the Homestead Exemption program could see a reduction of approximately $30, Finance Director Juli Millett has said.

The council on Wednesday also:

• Unanimously authorized borrowing up to $621,000 to fund a fire chief’s vehicle, a wood chipper for local cemeteries, a police vehicle, an ambulance, a one-ton truck with a plow for the recreation department, and a dump truck and street sweeper for the Public Works Department.

• Unanimously approved a supplemental appropriation of $289,000. The money is not within the fiscal 2018 budget, but it increases Bath’s expenditure limit, according to Millett.

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

Bath City Manager Bill Giroux said during Wednesday’s City Council meeting that he will leave the job July 6.

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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.