PORTLAND — With no controversial cuts or increases included in the proposed municipal budget for fiscal 2012, the City Council heard from just three citizens at a public hearing Monday night.
The quiet affair was in stark contrast with hearings held the past three years, when deep cuts to personnel and programs brought out hundreds of Portland residents.
“Our core principal was stability this year,” said Councilor John Anton, the chairman of the Finance Committee. “There are no layoffs, and the core services are preserved.”
The Finance Committee did make some changes to the original $200.8 million budget proposed by acting City Manager Pat Finnigan.
The committee’s $201.9 million budget recommendation includes $985,000 in additional funding for capital purchases. Those purchases were originally proposed through short-term borrowing, but the committee decided instead to use projected surplus from this year.
Staff determined that the fiscal year budget ending next month would have about $1.6 million left over. In addition to the $985,0000, $315,000 was put into the city’s fund balance and $300,000 was earmarked for tax relief.
About $245,000 in funding was also added for the city to run the restaurant at Riverside Golf Course.
During the public hearing, resident Steven Scharf, who is often critical of city spending, said “we are operating on a somewhat lean budget this year.”
The proposed municipal side of the budget represents a 1.2 percent tax increase which, when combined with the School Department’s proposed 3 percent increase, ends up at 2 percent.
A council workshop is scheduled for May 9 at 5 p.m. to discuss the proposed budget. The council is expected to vote on the proposal May 16 at 7 p.m. Both meetings take place in Council Chambers at City Hall.
In other business, the council by a vote of 8-1 approved a restaurant and liquor license for the city at Riverside Municipal Golf Course.
The measure had failed to get council support at a meeting April 25 after questions arose about the city’s application and its ability to run a restaurant.
Operation of the restaurant, which was previously known as Bogey’s, will be handled by the city’s food services staff. Councilor Jill Duson voted against the license because she said she does not think city employees should be serving alcohol.
The city purchased additional liability insurance to cover the employees who will work at the restaurant, according to the city’s corporation counsel, Gary Wood. Staff was unable to say how much that insurance cost the city. The city plans to hire seasonal employees to work at the restaurant.
Betsy Sawyer-Manter, the treasurer of the Riverside Golf Association, said the restaurant is a big part of the golf experience at Riverside, and urged councilors to approve the license.
Sawyer-Manter said the first tournament of the year at the course is scheduled for May 15, and participants rely on the restaurant for food and beverages for those events.
“It is bleak with no restaurant there,” she said.
The city originally put out a request for proposals to run the restaurant, but said none of the applicants were qualified.
PORTLAND — Voters will be asked Tuesday, May 10, to approve $84.6 million in school spending for fiscal year 2012.
The total school budget proposal is $89.5 million, but approval by voters is not required under state law for adult education ($1.7 million) and food service ($3.1 million).
The City Council unanimously approved the amount at its meeting Monday night, with the only comment coming from Mayor Nick Mavodones, who praised the School Board for its work in putting together the budget.
The school budget eliminates 31.5 city-funded positions, along with 35.6 grant-funded jobs.
Combined with the proposed municipal budget of $201.9 million, the total city budget would increase about 2 percent, bringing the tax rate to $18.28 per $1,000 assessed property value.
Polls will be open May 10 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots are available at the City Clerk’s office, which is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week. The office will also be open this Saturday, May 7, from 8 a.m. to noon for absentee voting.
— Kate Bucklin