AUBURN — Councilors said Monday they were sticking to an across-the-board 1.8 percent budget increase Monday night, urging cuts to agencies they share with the City of Lewiston.

Councilors on Monday reviewed budgets for the Lewiston-Auburn 911 Communications Center, the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport, Great Falls TV, Lewiston-Auburn Transit Committee and Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council. Combined, those groups were asking for about $1.7 million from the city.

Some, like the Transit Committee — operators of the Twin Cities’ Citylink bus service — were asking for less from the city.

Transit Coordinator Marsha Bennett said continued growth in ridership and revenues for the bus system let them ask for $2,133 less in their $209,244 budget request for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

John Holden, president of the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, said his group’s request for next year was the same $160,600 as last year.

“We are requesting flat funding for next year, another way of saying that is, we are requesting a zero percent increase,” Holden said. “The way we are doing this generally is we’ve reorganized personnel and our team to put more of the money into direct marketing, direct advertising and direct ways to get the word out — not just in these communities, but out in the world.”


Other agencies were not so lucky.

Phyllis Gamache, director of L-A 911, requested a 4 percent increase in her budget, from $1.05 million in the current budget to $1.09 million in 2015-16. That was driven mostly by salary costs and health insurance. The budget calls for filling three vacant positions, and Gamache said eliminating one of those would let her budget come in close to the council’s line.

That was good news, according to Councilor Tizz Crowley.

“I was very concerned when you came in at 4 percent, and you’ve heard my theme song this year of 1.8 percent,” she said. “I’m glad you have a plan. We’ve been charged this year that there are no sacred cows.”

Rick Lanman, director of the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport, said his request of an additional $11,500 amounted to capital investments the airport needs, including parking areas.

“The biggest thing we need at the airport right now is to improve the general appearance of the airport and the infrastructure so it can do the job we want it to do,” Lanman said.


Lanman said the airport typically generates about $1.2 million in revenues in airport fees and rent each year. The Twin Cities split the rest of the expenses, about $210,000 total.

Councilor Mary LaFontaine said that arrangement has gone on year after year and needs to change.

“What is the plan to address that going forward?” LaFontaine said.

Lanman said the airport needs to be able to bring in more income on its own if it it’s going to get by without a subsidy from the cities.

But it was the form of the budget requests that rankled councilors most Monday night. Crowley said city departments are using a narrative budget form that not only outlines spending, but discusses departmental goals and staff members’ daily and monthly work plans.

The joint agencies did not submit those narratives, and she said they should before she’d be willing to approve their budgets.

“It’s information that I feel is valuable and as vital in the budget process as I feel the numbers are,” she said. “It’s very hard to not have that information. That’s where taxpayers can create an understanding. They can see what they are getting and the effort made, and it helps them know what they are getting in return.”

Councilors also reviewed budget requests for the city’s administrative departments, including city manager and clerk, human resources, computers, legal, finance and economic development.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.