Council gets spending package

By Joshua Archer
Special to the Aroostook Republican

     City council members met last week to review the 2017 spending package for Caribou.

    After a careful examination of the budget accompanied by city department heads, the evening’s review included few cuts or issues with line item requests.

    The council did ask City Manager Austin Bleess if it was possible to reduce new taxes. Apprehensive about cuts to the budget he did manage to reduce new taxes by $205,000. Leaving new taxes to be $384,000 or approximately 1 mill.

     “I don’t feel the city should continue to neglect our infrastructure. I think we need to get back to paving and chip-sealing our roads like we had been up until about three of four years ago. Our capital improvement budgets, we can’t afford to delay on those anymore and cut from there so really it’s going to come down to services and positions in order to meet what the council is looking for,” Bleess said during the Nov. 1 session.

     Councilors suggested wage adjustments for municipal workers so that Caribou can remain competitive with other communities.

     “Non-union staff are not getting an across-the-board increase, but they’re getting market wage-based adjustments based upon the average salary of the same title in communities with populations between 6,000 and 10,000 residents,” Bleess said.

     The Maine Municipal Association does a salary survey with communities across the state to compile a report of what city managers make, as well as police chiefs, fire chiefs and other municipal employees.

     “We’re going to be adjusting our pay scale to the average of what those positions make,” he said.

     In 2008 the city adopted the wage scale and at that time the council said that every two years the wage scale would be adjusted based on the wages of the survey.

     “And that hasn’t happened,” he said. “(The city council is) trying to get back to the program that they adopted in 2008.”

     The city council will meet again to discuss budget matters tonight at 6:30 p.m.