AUBURN — City Manager Howard Kroll said Monday that he met the City Council’s budget preference with a $39.2 million spending plan, but there will be costs.

“All departments were tasked with presenting an overall city budget that shows 0.7 percent or less,” Kroll said a special council workshop Monday night. “I can honestly say we met that directive. It’s been a trying process, but we came in that amount. Of course, it’s up to you now where we go from there.”

Kroll’s proposed budget does away with eight positions — five current staff members and three vacancies. He announced the five staff layoffs Friday.

The budget would rewrite cooperative services with Lewiston. It eliminates Auburn’s payments to the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council and cuts $213,000 from the Lewiston-Auburn 911 system and $27,000 from the Lewiston-Auburn Transit Committee, operators of the Citylink bus system.

“I have come to the conclusion that we simply cannot continue to do business as we have over the last 20 years,” Kroll said. “It’s not one agency, it’s pretty much all of them.”

Kroll’s proposed budget also cuts $45,900 for the library and combines five city departments into two. Police and fire would be a single Public Safety Department under his plan.


The Community Development, Economic Development and Planning and Code Enforcement departments would become one department as well. Reine Mynahan, the current director of Community Development, is expected to retire by the end of June and Kroll said her position would be rolled into the other departments.

“Many departments came in flat-funded or even less,” Kroll said. “This is not a budget based on wish lists or one that the department recommends to support systems and services and programs the City Council has set. It does take careful consideration of a realistic balance of our real revenues.”

Questions about the actual spending plan should wait until the April 25 public hearing. Councilors have scheduled a special budget workshop the next day, April 26.

Councilors held most of their comments on the proposed spending plan, and Mayor Jonathan LaBonte kept public comments to matters of budget meeting protocol.

Kroll said a digital copy of the budget should be available at the city’s website, www., by Wednesday.

News about the layoffs began to leak to the public Friday. In a letter to city employees Friday, Kroll said that four employees had been laid off that day: Fire Department Planner Sarah Hulbert, Public Services Planner Jaclyn Beebe, Electrician Mike Soucy and Mike Reed, a building maintenance technician.


Fire Chief Frank Roma confirmed Friday that he had been laid off as well.

Kroll said three other positions had been identified for elimination on or before June 30, but he said Monday that exactly which positions will be cut is still being worked out.

“All the layoffs I’ve made are reflected and discussed in our documents and are included in this budget,” Kroll told councilors. “Any more cuts, I’ll leave it up to you how to deal with that. I’ve done what I could get us to 0.7 percent and here we sit. Some tough decisions had to be made.”

Auburn’s budget problems this year are twofold: a lower than expected fund balance and low inflation rate.

Budget policy calls for the city to maintain about 12.5 percent of its annual expenditures in an unassigned fund balance, enough to run the city for about a month and a half. For the 2015 fiscal year, the unassigned balance is $4.97 million. That’s about 6.3 percent of the annual expenditures, and the city would need to bank about $3.5 million to get it built back up.

“It’s a difficult path, but it’s one we have to take to give the city the peace of mind it deserves,” Kroll said. “We never know when a major financial crisis is going to come, but we have to be prepared for it.”


An ordinance requires the city to keep any property tax increases below the Consumer Price Index urban rate, which is 0.7 percent this year. Councilors can override that limit with a five-vote majority, but several councilors have said they want to stick to that rule.

Combined, the two issues account for $1.6 million, he said.

Kroll’s proposed budget would increase property taxes by $157,096 — a 0.66 percent increase. Combined with a $966,974 increase in property taxes for the Auburn School Department and a $25,443 for Androscoggin County, property taxes would still increase $1.15 million — a 2.71 percent increase.

It would set the tax rate at $21.88 per $1,000 of value, up from the current $21.25 tax rate — a $94.50 increase in taxes for a $150,000 home. Councilors would still need a five-vote majority to approve such a tax increase.

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.