AUBURN — Eliminating $29,000 in city staff costs, reducing polling places, not replacing any police cruisers this year and skipping numerous computer software upgrades are among the city’s options for meeting its 2014-15 fiscal year property tax goals.

City Manager Clinton Deschene outlined $1.8 million in budget policy changes that could reduce a proposed property tax hike in the 2014-15 budget.

The City Council is facing a budget that would push the tax rate up about $1.05 per $1,000 of property value — with a corresponding tax bill that would increase by $157 for a $150,000 home.

The changes Deschene outlined at a Monday night workshop would increase the tax rate by 33 cents. That would increase the property tax bill on a $150,000 home by $49.50.

But Deschene said he’s uneasy about many of the proposed changes he offered Monday, saying they could drastically reduce the city’s service levels.

“I would not recommend doing all of these,” Deschene said. “I think they are overdoing our cuts, and that’s my opinion as your city manager.”

The list of adjustments amount to $864,164 in spending reductions compared with the budget he presented to councilors last month and $979,400 in new revenue, including fee increases in several departments and $870,000 in new revenues generated by creating a city ambulance service.

“I am 100 percent confident that the revenue projection for EMS at $870,000 is attainable — 100 percent certain,” Deschene said.

Deschene said the proposed $29,000 in staff cuts include not filling some positions that are currently vacant but would include laying off some staff. One function that could go away is the telephone receptionist that answers Auburn Hall phone calls.

Councilors have been reviewing Deschene’s draft budget for about a month. It calls for $76.4 million in total spending between the city and the schools. That includes $38.6 million in school spending and $37.9 million for city departments.

Councilors directed Deschene and his department managers to cut up to $2 million in spending from the proposed budget — $1.7 million in cuts from the proposed municipal budget and $300,000 from the schools. While Deschene’s proposal Monday technically did that, it did so by increasing revenues. City Councilor Leroy Walker said he’d rather hold out for $1.7 million in pure spending cuts.

“We said we want you to bring it down by $1.7 million, or whatever that number was,” Walker said. “I expect us to at least see that down. And then, after that, if people have other ideas or thoughts, that’s where we can go.”

Deschene and the City Council will take his proposed budget and the changes he offered Monday to a public hearing Monday, May 5. Councilors will begin amending and adopting a final budget after that.

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