OLD TOWN – City councilors this week  took their first look at the fiscal year 2020 budget, and now must decide what stays and goes.
While the council has not yet said what its target goal is for the budget, one thing is certain – it will be far less than the request made in the first draft.

Most years, the early draft of the budget includes a wish list of what department heads would ask for in a perfect world, which then is trimmed back to an amount councilors find palatable. This year is no different, with the initial request for $19.02 million – an 18 percent increase over the current fiscal year. In recent years, approved budget increases have hovered around 3 percent. And contrary to what some may think, they is no huge windfall from the mill reopening this year; it will be 2020 or beyond before the city starts to have additional revenues from capital improvements being made by Nine Dragons.

The “wish list” budget would include three additional firefighter/EMTs, three more firefighters, two new public works staffers,  one more person at the airport, nd a part time community events manager. It also includes 3 percent raises for non-union employees, 2 percent plus a 2 percent step as a placeholder until new contracts are negotiated for union employees, an 8 percent increase in health and dental insurance, and a slight increase in retirement benefit costs.

Other additional expenses in the draft budget include additional training for some staff, $105,000 in debt service for a new Border Patrol facility at the airport (which would be offset by a lease for use of the facility), and various capital projects.

The council has no control over some costs in the budget. The county assessment is scheduled to rise 1 percent; RSU 34’s assessment currently is forecast to go up 5 percent.

The council is scheduled to start an in depth review of the budget this week, and it will set a schedule for workshops then.

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