The Portland City Council approved the city’s $261 million budget Monday night after giving their blessing to several amendments.

The amendments, which will add more than $400,000 to the total, include $175,000 to fund the city’s clean election program; $175,000 to reorganize the city’s Executive Department; and $53,500 to hire a Senior Outreach Nurse at the Barron Center’s Office of Elder Affairs.

The city budget accounts for just under half of the overall tax rate while the school budget makes up most of the rest. 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.

Finance Director Brendan O’Connell told the council that the impact of the city and education budget will result in an overall rate increase of 5.9%. Portland’s exact tax rate will be determined by late summer, O’Connell said.

City Manager Danielle West told the City Council at Monday’s meeting that the city learned Friday that the state will provide $7.45 million to offset General Assistance costs in the next fiscal year. 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 GA costs.

“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 told the Press Herald last week.


City officials were waiting to learn what the state allocation would be, which is one of the reasons why budget deliberations dragged into July.

City Councilor Mark Dion, chairman of the Finance Committee, praised the collaboration it took by several departments to develop the budget.

“This is a status quo budget. This is not a budget constructed out of thin air. It was constructed with a lot of due diligence,” Dion said.

West also sponsored a measure that will result in a 4% cost of living adjustment to the salaries of all non-union employees, including the mayor, city council, city clerk and corporation counsel. Councilors approved the measure Monday night.

The council, by a 6-3 vote, also approved a 14.5% wage increase for all members of the Portland Police Department – an effort to bring wages in line with neighboring departments. The increase was also given to police department superior officers.

Only five people spoke during the public hearing on the budget. Speakers criticized giving raises to Portland police as well as investing $175,000 to reorganize the city’s Executive Department.

All of the budget orders approved Monday were emergency orders and will take effect immediately.

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