ROCKLAND — Spending on city services will rise 7 percent under a proposed budget for 2022-2023 presented to City Council by the city manager Monday night.
The approximately $1 million increase is due to a proposal to add an additional fire/EMS shift as requested by the fire chief; staffing of the leisure department at a “robust” level; filling a vacancy for a police patrol officer; and skyrocketing energy prices.
The total municipal spending package is proposed at $15,545,000, an increase of $1,076,000 over the approved 2021-2022 budget.
The increased city budget coupled with a projected increase in school and county costs is expected to add $316 to the tax bill for a home valued at $200,000. Fifty-four cents of every dollar in property taxes collected in Rockland goes to Regional School Unit 13, 41 cents goes to community services, and five cents goes to Knox County.
City manager Tom Luttrell said the proposed budget to offset the increases does not include donations to outside organizations such as the Area Interfaith Outreach pantry and local soup kitchens. The vacant post of sustainability coordinator has been eliminated from the budget.
The city anticipates an additional $500,000 in government revenue sharing. However, vehicle excise tax revenue is expected to fall as fewer vehicles are purchased due to supply chain issues.
The City Council will begin reviewing the administration’s proposal on Wednesday, May 11th when it comes to Fire/Ems, Insurance and Benefits, Utilities, Library and Dues. On Monday, May 16, the Council will review the Police, Community Development, Legislative, Executive, Assessment, Port and General Support Departments. On Wednesday, May 18, the council will review the public services, finance, code enforcement, city clerk, city hall, recreation and technology departments. On Monday, May 23, capital improvement projects, debt services and sewage departments will be reviewed.
Preliminary approval is expected on May 23, with a formal public hearing and final approval scheduled for Monday, June 27.
Public services — which includes solid waste facilities — has the largest departmental budget, which is proposed at $3,656,000. That is an increase of 8.4 percent.
The fire department’s budget is projected at $2,574,000, an increase of 16.2 percent.
The police department’s budget is projected at $2,378,000, an increase of 10.2 percent. These include an additional police position, fuel and additional training for officers.
The general government account — which includes Legislative, Executive, Assessment, Finance, Clergy, Technology and Insurance — is proposed at $2,923,000, an increase of 3.1 percent.
Debt service is estimated at $1,382,000, an increase of 2.8 percent.
The library budget is projected at $636,000, an increase of 4 percent.
The port budget is estimated at $357,000, an increase of 13.5 percent.
The recovery budget is projected at $338,000, an increase of 68.4 percent.
The wastewater budget, paid for by sewer fees, is expected to increase 9.9 percent to $5,464,000. This results in a 5 percent increase in channel fees. The city manager said increased regulation of sludge disposal due to contamination of farmland is partly behind the increase in the sanitation budget.
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