Budget hearing on Monday

A public hearing on the municipal budget will be held during the City Council’s regular meeting next Monday night after which it’s expected to be approved [CORRECTION: A public hearing will be held but a vote will take place after notification from the state on the city’s request for $1 million in extraordinary aid, which could come by the end of the month].

The city’s net valuation is up about $30 million, which is only for nine months of the year, according to City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier, but a full-year assessment would be about $41 million next year. Last year’s valuation was up about $10 million, or 0.67 percent.

But it’s still not enough to avoid a tax increase. It’s unclear how much of a tax hike the $43-million budget for 2008/09 will carry but the city is awaiting word on a $1 million request to the state for “extraordinary aid.” Just about half the budget ($21.4 million) is allocated for salaries and wages for 344 city employees. Though the budget is down about 3 percent from last year’s $44.3 million, the amount to be raised through property taxes is up 7 percent, from $26 million to $27.8 million.

Although last year’s budget saw a mild drop in municipal taxes ($2,276) for the average assessed home ($133,000), it was the first time that sewer fees were separated from the local property tax bill. The annual sewer fee for a single-family home is $245 and it varies for other types of residences and businesses.