Portland is planning to move forward with passing its annual budget Monday, now that the state Legislature has approved sending millions of dollars in one-time General Assistance funding to the city.

The estimated $7.45 million should help Portland blunt any further tax increases. The City Council is scheduled to take up the budget Monday after several previous delays as it waited for more information on the state funding.

City Manager Danielle West has proposed a $261 million general fund budget with a 6.1% increase in the city side of the tax rate. The council’s Finance Committee has recommended an additional $139,000 in spending, which would result in a 6.3% increase in the city side of the tax rate.

The city budget accounts for just under half of the overall tax rate while the school budget makes up the other half. Residents in June approved a $143.8 million school budget that calls for a 5.7% increase in the school portion of the tax rate.

West’s proposed budget would result in an overall tax rate increase of 5.9% while the finance committee’s proposal would result in a 6% increase.

She had warned that the city could see higher tax rate increases without either additional General Assistance support from the state, or increasing the General Assistance reimbursement rate to 90% for towns and cities. The state currently reimburses municipalities for 70% of their costs.


West said Thursday that additional one-time funding has been included in the new state budget signed by Gov. Janet Mills Tuesday, but the city is still waiting to find out exactly how much they will get.

Based on the city’s 2022 General Assistance costs, it will likely get approximately $7.45 million out of the $8.5 million available, Maine Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Jackie Farwell said in an email.

West said that would be more than enough to prevent further tax rate increases, and could even help the city reduce its reliance on American Rescue Plan Act funds in the proposed budget.

“If it’s $7.45 million … we’d be able to deliver a pretty good product to the taxpayer and the council and fill the gap we were trying to fill,” West said.

City officials also supported a bill, L.D. 1664, that would have increased the GA reimbursement rate to 90%. The bill appeared to still be lingering on the Legislature’s appropriations table Thursday, and could be punted until the next legislative session.

“I’m not sure there is sufficient funding, so I don’t know if it will move forward,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Marianne Moore, R-Washington, said Thursday.



The council will also consider amendments from the Finance Committee on Monday, which include additional funding for the city clerk’s office to run the new clean elections program, for the city’s legal department to hire a new corporation counsel and for human resources to hire a new recruiter.

A handful of amendments are also expected to be brought from the floor. Mayor Kate Snyder said Thursday that she plans to propose a 10% salary increase for City Clerk Ashley Rand, who currently earns $100,000, following a positive evaluation at her annual review last month.

Amendments for Monday’s meeting had not yet been published Thursday afternoon, but Councilors Anna Trevorrow and Regina Phillips also filed proposals last month.

Trevorrow’s amendment would add funding for the city’s newly approved clean elections program, while Phillips called for an additional $53,000 for the Barron Center to hire a dedicated senior outreach nurse.

The budget to be considered Monday also includes pay raises in the police department and Barron Center – two areas that have been particularly hard hit by staffing shortages.

The council is expected to approve 14.5% pay increases for employees represented by two police unions while the Barron Center proposal would create new wage scales based on a study of various nursing positions.

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