2017-03-23 / Front Page

Biddeford city manager proposes $31.9M budget

By ALAN BENNETT
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — Biddeford City Manager Jim Bennett has proposed a $31.9 million municipal budget he said is likely to be subject to scrutiny before it is approved by city officials and the public.

Bennett first outlined the proposed budget before the City Council on Tuesday, further discussing it at a workshop with the Budget Committee — which the City Council comprises during the municipal budget season — on Wednesday evening.

The proposed municipal budget would increase the mil rate from 19.86 to 20.91 — an increase of $1.05, or 5.27 percent.

That means those with houses worth $211,000 — the median value in Biddeford — would see their taxes increase by $80.25 a year.

Bennett’s recommended budget is significantly lower than the $35.4 million funding requested by city department heads.

The proposed budget would go toward several city initiatives, including hiring four extra daytime firefighters — to work four days each week in 20-hour shifts — and increases in municipal services.

One major increase is a proposed $1.93 million in capital improvement funding, that's $1.2 million over the $700,935 capital improvement budget for the current fiscal year.

Included in that funding would be $500,000 for paving — opposed to $1.3 million proposed by department heads — $397,535 dedicated to Public Works and $130,500 allocated to the Biddeford Fire Department.

Department heads initially asked for $3.4 million in capital improvement funding, according to city documents.

Bennett said the budget, while submitted with his recommendation, is not perfect and will require work before moving forward.

“My role in preparing the budget is to critically review our current practices,” for balancing short-term and long-term horizons, Bennett said before the City Council on Tuesday.

“You’re going to find yourself really challenged individually and collectively as you look at the challenges before you this year,” he said to city councilors. “There’s work to be done and I expect to be partners with you as you wrestle these very difficult policy decisions.”

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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