AUBURN – An 11-cent cut in the city’s property tax rate wasn’t enough for at least one city councilor Monday.

“I just think we can do much better,” said Councilor Ron Potvin, the sole no vote as councilors approved their fiscal year 2009-10 budget. “We still have a spending increase. We still have departments spending more, and we have enough money in our savings to lower our tax rate further.”

According to the budget, the city will spend $30.05 million in fiscal year 2009-10, a $14,341 increase compared to the current budget. State revenue, including the city’s portion of sales taxes, is expected to decrease $203,728. Overall, that means that the city’s share of property taxes will increase $218,069.

The school budget will decrease $269,317, however. That’s thanks to a $260,013 increase in state revenue and $9,304 less spending.

The end result is a slight spending increase but an 11 cent property tax rate decrease – about $17.10 for the average home. Between the city, the School Department and a $164,945 reduction in county taxes, property tax collections will decrease $235,000.

“I think we’ve done the best job we could,” City Manager Glenn Aho said. State revenue projections actually called for $230,000 more for the city than what ended up in the budget. Property taxes would drop more if that came through.

But it’s not enough for Councilor Potvin.

“I’m here on the council because people wanted me to cut taxes,” Potvin said. “I’m not here to build things. They elected me for a reason, and that was taxes.”

Potvin called for a commitment from councilors to put any additional revenue into property tax reductions.

Councilor Dan Herrick defended the budget.

“I think it’s important to cut taxes, too, but I don’t want to lose services,” Herrick said. “That’s why I was elected. And I think we’ve done that here.”

One area that didn’t escape from budget cuts was the Fire Department, which saw $52,813 in cuts compared to the current budget. Aho said the current plan calls for the city to retire its medical response vehicles and contract with United Ambulance. The city also does not plan to replace Fire Prevention Officer Paul Simard, who retired this year.

Firefighter Mike Scott, president of the Auburn Firefighters Union, argued against both cuts, saying they would make firefighters and residents alike less safe.

Aho said the city’s work on the budget is mostly complete. The school department’s budget goes before voters May 5.


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