PI councilors go over budget requests for the 2023 city budget

2 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — City Council members met with business owners and community leaders for a second hearing on the 2023 municipal budget on Wednesday, Nov. 2.

There was a 2.7 percent difference between last year’s and the 2022 budget, which amounted to a $640,000 increase, according to City Manager Martin Puckett.

The Homeless Services of Aroostook had an increase in services and doubled staff at the Sister Mary O’ Donnell Shelter. The organization has a letter of support from Puckett to be sent to the County Commissioners.

With the end of the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance program, approximately 21 people experiencing homelessness who were staying in the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center have checked out. Sixteen found housing through friends and family, or apartments, while two returned to the street and one is staying in their truck.

“Just so the public understands, we made available our public assistance and general assistance staff to work with any of the affected persons to come in and to apply for help,” Councilor Craig Green said. “We’ve reached out and done everything humanly possible on our part to give them resources as well as the shelter.”

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — November 2, 2022 — Presque Isle City Council members and city manager Martin Puckett (right) listen to budget requests from local organizations for the 2023 budget at the Sargent Family Community Center on Nov. 2. (Paul Bagnall | The Star-Herald)

During the budget workshop concerning unclassified and outside requests, Aroostook Agency on Aging asked for $5,500; Central Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District sought $1,500 to enable the agricultural community to apply for federal grants; and Wintergreen Art Center wants $16,000, which is 8 percent of its total budget.

The Snowmobile Club requested a multiple $5,000 per year to pay for a snow groomer that costs more than $260,000. Quaggy Joe asked for $6,400, and there was a request for $200 for the Veterans Cemetery flags. 

Bruce Roope, president of the board for Johnson Cemetery, requested a $4,850 increase to cover mowing expenses, which have risen from $300 to $450 per project. The board has already spent $10,500 this year. Next year Roope said they’re asking for an increase of up to $7,000 but could be as high as $12,000 if the price goes up on mowing to $500 per project.

The Downtown Revitalization Committee requested $13,851, diminished from $24,000 from the previous fiscal year. There was a request of $10,000 for the fireworks for Fiddlehead Fest, Winter Snow Fest and the Fourth of July.

The City Council unanimously approved two license proposals for an adult use cultivation facility for James Bacon of Bacon Holdings LLC to be located at 55 Industrial St., and Malt, Spirituous and Vinous liquor license for Anthony Sullivan doing business as Ferris BBQ, Inc. at 79 Parsons St.

“We are excited to see a new restaurant opportunity open in town and we hope we see a few more,” said City Council Chairperson Kevin Freeman.

Five grants totaling $5.1 million were received in 2022 and included a joint application with Cary Medical Center for $200,000 for emergency medical technician training, two county ARPA applications for the Echo Lake project and an HVAC system at The Forum totaling $450,000. 

Presque Isle was awarded a $1,500 Maine Town and City Manager Internship grant. The city was the only one that applied for it and will use it to pay for their municipal interns. 

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — November 2, 2022 — Johnson Cemetery board president Bruce Roope (left-center) discusses the budget request for mowing expenses for the Johnson Cemetery at City Council meeting at the Sargent Family Community Center on Nov. 2. (Paul Bagnall | The Star-Herald)

City council members on Nov. 3 went over the cost details for the $4.5 million research park at the Presque Isle International airport with airport director Scott Wardwell.

The City Council unanimously approved orders to declare dangerous buildings at 13 Judd St. with a collapsing foundation and 14 Water St. condemned on May 11, 2021.

Puckett went over new design templates for the city’s revised website and will send the proposal to the council for approval.

Chad Graham of Fieldstone Leasing and Development at 477 Main St. reached out to Economic and Development Director Galen Weibley that he had secured private funding and would no longer need the winterization and rental modernization loan. Graham was in the process for his $68,000 loan through the program.

No action was taken by the City Council for a request to transfer $100,0000 in funds from the Presque Isle Development Fund to the winterization loan program.

The council also approved closing Main Street for the annual Light Parade slated for 5:30-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.

On Thursday, Nov 3, the City Council approved proposing a $6 million flat budget for 2023 during the budget workshop, with the Fire Department and Public works budget not ratified yet. The six City Council members went over employee benefits, health insurance and salaries of the police and fire departments, along with the public works for the city.