GARDINER – The Gardiner City Council last night approved the Cityâ€™s fiscal year 2011 (FY11) budget, totaling $8.8 million, which includes municipal, educational, and county expenditures. The Council, along with recently appointed City Manager Scott Morelli, achieved their goal of retaining the current level of service while not asking Gardiner residents for increased taxes to pay for municipal spending. Municipal expenditures for FY11 total $4.6 million, which represents only a four-tenths of one percent (0.4%) increase over FY10. Despite this slight increase, the municipal side of the budget will not raise property taxes for Gardiner residents and business owners.
“Iâ€™m pleased that weâ€™ve enacted another conservative budget, keeping with Gardiner’s tradition of fiscal restraint,â€ť said Mayor Andrew MacLean. â€śThe Council and staff have worked extremely hard during the last three months to produce a budget that all could support. Iâ€™m proud that we achieved a unanimous vote on it last night.”
Even with the frugality that went in to putting together the Cityâ€™s FY11 budget, the new budget allocates funding for several important initiatives, including: the purchase of a new ladder truck for the Fire Department to replace the existing, 29-year-old vehicle; a new pellet boiler or oil burner for City Hall to replace the current, 40-year-old boiler; a new mask-fit tester and seven pieces of new entry gear for the Fire Department; road paving for 12 streets, including: Deane Street, Weeks Road, Lincoln Avenue, Church Street, and Old Brunswick Road; an engineering study to address the sewerage odors on West Street; erosion control efforts; painting and striping for roadways and crosswalks; and funding for several community nonprofit organizations, including: Boys & Girls Club, Gardiner Main Street, Johnson Hall, Chrysalis Place, and the Kennebec Valley Humane Society.
â€śWe were able to achieve a great balancing act in this yearâ€™s budget,â€ť said Morelli. â€śWe included items that invest in key community priorities such as public safety while essentially keeping our expenditures flat. Both the City staff and the Council did a great job of ensuring that this budget reflects the needs of the community while being mindful that raising taxes in this economy is not something that the taxpayers can afford.â€ť
In conjunction with implementing the FY11 budget, the City Assessor will be decreasing property values by about 10% for the average homeowner. This decrease is intended to more accurately reflect property values in Gardiner, which, like many communities, have been negatively affected by the recent economic recession. While this revaluation will necessitate an increase in the current mil rate of $17.20 to $18.85 to raise the same amount of funds, the average property owner will not see a change in their taxes since the value of their real estate will be decreasing. For example, a Gardiner home currently valued at $150,000 and receiving a Homestead exemption would pay $2,356.40 in property taxes at the current $17.20 mil rate. In FY11, if that same home were now valued at $135,000 (10% less) and received a Homestead exemption, it would pay the same $2,356.40 in property taxes at the new $18.85 mil rate.
However, due to a nearly $100,000 increase in the educational assessment from MSAD/RSU 11, Gardiner residents will see an increase in their property taxes to pay for that portion of the budget. When factoring in the decrease in Homestead funding from the State and this increase in educational funding approved by voters on June 8, the mil rate will rise from $18.85 to $19.20, a $0.35 increase.
The start of the new fiscal year also marks several changes to the Cityâ€™s organizational structure. With the departure of Sandy Runyon as the Finance Director, Assistant Finance Director Denise Brown has been promoted to fill that position. In addition, portions of the Cityâ€™s modest reorganization plan will begin to be implemented. This plan saves between $16,715 and $23,215 per year and creates a more efficient management structure.
Contact Name: Scott Morelli
Telephone Number: (207)582-4200