BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted a $16.6 million budget for fiscal year 2020, an increase of about $751,000, or 4.7%, over current spending.

The panel also approved bonds to purchase several vehicles and equipment, and supported a street paving contract for this summer and next spring.

Thanks to increases in non-tax revenues such as interest income, revenue sharing and sewer fees offsetting expenditures, the $8.9 million municipal portion of fiscal year 2020 taxes is down about $88,000, or 0.42%.

Combined with $10.7 million in Regional School Unit 1 taxes (up 1.25%) and $1.8 million in Sagadahoc County taxes (up 0.2%), the total property tax amount for Bath is $21.4 million, a 1.04% increase.

As a result, the owner of a home valued at $200,000 could see an annual tax increase of about $35. Bath, meanwhile, is in the midst of a revaluation; since tax rates are calculated by dividing the tax amount by the new valuation, an increase in town value will result in a reduction in estimated tax rates.

The $11.2 million general fund – the largest portion of Bath’s municipal budget – is up 3.1%, due mostly to hikes in salaries, retirement contributions and health insurance. A firefighter/advanced emergency medical technician and an information technology specialist are two new positions, and an additional $25,000 allocation to Patten Free Library will allow it to be open Mondays.

The nearly $943,000 capital fund, up 7.9%, includes debt payments on a fire truck and Public Works equipment, along with building studies for Morse High School and the fire and police stations.

The $1.8 million landfill fund has increased 6.1%, thanks primarily to hikes in recycling costs and capital expenses for gas remediation and debt payment on a new landfill cell.

A 12% increase in the $2.3 million sewer fund largely goes toward the first debt payment on a $9.8 million sewer bond voters approved in 2014.

Bath’s largest non-tax revenue hike comes from state revenue sharing, which the city is budgeting to rise 72.7%, to reach $958,000. While the state set aside about 2% of its income in fiscal year 2019 for this purpose, Gov. Janet Mills’ budget ups that level to 2.5%, according to a budget report by city Finance Director Juli Millett.

If revenue sharing remained at 2%, Bath would have to raise $403,000 in additional taxes, resulting in a 1.91% levy increase, she noted.

Borrowing

The City Council on Wednesday also unanimously approved issuing a general obligation bond of up to $255,500 to finance several vehicles and equipment.

The financing will include $125,000 for bathrooms at the Edward J. McMann Athletic Complex, $45,000 to replace a 2.5-ton Public Works truck, $25,000 toward a half-ton Public Works pickup truck replacement, and $22,000 for Police Department vehicles.

The council also unanimously approved a nearly $430,000 street paving bid from Hagar Enterprises of Damariscotta. The money comes from a $2.8 million street improvement bond that voters approved in 2017.

Streets proposed to be paved this summer include Mechanic and Spring streets, Middle Street between Robinson and Lemont streets, Judkins, Oak Grove and Maple Grove avenues, and the parking lot behind the Donald Small School.

Next spring could see work being done on Crescent and York streets, High Street from Oliver to Park streets, Oliver Circle, Mast Landing, Redlon Road between Western Avenue and Richardson Street, and the Oak Grove Cemetery entrance.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Lee Leiner, Bath’s Public Works director, reads a list of streets proposed to be paved this summer and next spring at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.


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