A message from the Presque Isle City Council

13 years ago

A message from the Presque Isle City Council

To the editor:

    The Presque Isle City Council wishes to clarify the reasons we are exploring the options of reducing operating expenditures. The council instructed the city manager, Mr. Jim Bennett to brainstorm ideas that could ultimately be used for discussion points to help balance the city budget. Jim Bennett offered the council a list of budget alternatives, not to be confused with budget recommendations.

    The current city manager and the 2011 city council happen to be serving at a time when the economy is poor, costs (particularly fuel) are rising, revenues are decreasing and new construction is almost at a standstill. We must be vigilant and determined to provide essential services in a clearly difficult budgetary environment.

    In the past years, the city experienced $10 million +/- annually in increased real valuation which covered increased expenses without increasing taxes. Today, the city is experiencing almost zero increased real valuation.

• The city has depleted its available surplus.

• The city has postponed needed capital improvements instead of decreasing expenditures or raising taxes, which pushes costs out to future taxpayers.

• We have a substantial shortfall to make up for 2012 and our financial forecast shows a $1.2 million shortfall in 2013 if we don’t reduce costs. This would mean a 3 mil tax increase or $300 on a $100,000 home. We are working to keep a stable tax rate.

    Presque Isles’ high tax rate has practically eliminated all residential development. It looks like the economy is going to take a fairly long time to correct itself and we see nothing in Presque Isle’s foreseeable future that will change our present tax base.

    This year, revenue sharing from the state of Maine is $300,000 below projections and over the past three years we have received revenue sharing of more than $1,000,000 less than what was promised.

    Recently, there have been numerous comments about the need to hire a deputy city manager. The council feels very strongly that this is an essential position for the future due to the following reasons:

• The city’s planning department has been decreased and the City Manager has been forced to spend a lot of time in this aspect. Planning and development will be an important part of the job description for the deputy city manager.

• Municipal Solid Waste is a very important issue right now as the city is currently facing a subsidy of $650,000 for solid waste. This is an issue that’s needs to be addressed in the near future.

• The deputy city manager will be able to improve communications with the business community as the council feels that we need to have a stronger relationship with local business and become a business friendly community.

    One of the goals of the council is to look at other communities to share services as well as to have Presque Isle provide services. This is a duty that needs to be done short term in order to increase efficiencies for Presque Isle and neighboring communities.

    The city of Presque Isle is faced with a difficult choice. The taxpayers will have to be willing to pay substantially higher taxes if cuts are not made. We would also caution those proposing higher tax rates that this could have an adverse affect on the existing employers and more local jobs could disappear.

    The budget alternatives we are considering will have impacts on the community. The elimination of positions puts an emotional strain on the community, the employees, the council and the city manager. In the end the council must act on sound judgment to balance the budget with as little impact to services as possible. The city manager will implement the plan and go in the direction that his council directs him to go. Jim Bennett has gone above and beyond to protect city employee jobs, but he must act with the council’s approval.

Presque Isle City Council