AUBURN — The City Council approved next year’s $91.7 million budget in first reading Monday. A final reading in two weeks will likely cap an unusual budget season that was upended by COVID-19.

In response to the pandemic, city officials have worked over the past few months to trim both the municipal and school budgets, and the final numbers represent no increase to the property tax rate.

The city budget, at $41.3 million, represents an increase of $951,135 from this year. The school budget, at $45.8 million, is a $465,175 increase over the current year.

The county budget and other intergovernmental expenses equal $4.5 million.

Following a 6-1 vote to approve the budget, City Manager Peter Crichton thanked councilors for working with city staff through the unprecedented budget season.

“You have gone through a difficult and challenging budget,” he said.

Midway through the usual budget process, officials began planning for projected revenue losses caused by the pandemic. Like other municipalities, Auburn put a hiring freeze on vacant positions. The six vacant positions will save the city about $326,000.

The city is planning for losses in municipal revenue sharing and the vehicle excise tax.

The council also unanimously approved placing up to $400,000 from this year’s budget in an emergency reserve account to address critical needs.

With the property tax rate remaining flat, Auburn’s tax rate will stay at $23.75 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The council also approved a first reading of $9.3 million in bonding for next year’s capital improvement plan.

The council made an amendment to add $800,000 to be used toward Auburn’s “downtown visioning,” which is intended to ramp up a program that can assist businesses looking to redevelop vacant or unused lots.

The amendment passed 6-1, with Councilor Belinda Gerry opposed. Gerry also provided the lone vote against the 2021 budget.


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