ELLSWORTH — Councilors met with several department heads on April 26 as work on the fiscal year 2022 city budget continues. The budget cycle starts on July 1 and ends June 30, 2022.
“We went into this budget with the expectation of little or no increase across the board, while still providing the highest level of service to our citizens,” City Manager Glenn Moshier said.
And while a “very large percentage” of the city’s annual budget is spent on salaries and benefits, Moshier said no new positions are included in the coming year’s budget. However, a pandemic-related receptionist position is still needed at this time and has been well-received by citizens, he noted.
While revenues both local and from state revenue sharing are not yet solid figures, department budgets are mostly flat. The exceptions are the Finance Department, which is undergoing restructuring, Director Jenn Merchant said, and the Planning Department, where an increase is expected as the city begins revising its comprehensive plan. The Planning Department has set aside $35,000 toward that cost.
“We’ve identified [this] as a priority going forward,” Moshier said after the council workshop.
Legal services will also see an increase, as three separate city labor negotiations are underway, including the Fire Department, “which is a difficult one at best,” Moshier noted, and for public works and at the wastewater treatment plant.
The $800,000 the city is set to receive in pandemic relief funds, of which half can be applied to the upcoming fiscal year, will likely be used to create assistance for local businesses affected by COVID-19, Moshier said, and possibly as grant matches for projects such as the bicycle/pedestrian path extension currently under consideration.
The council is holding more budget workshops. On May 3, the public safety budget will be discussed and on May 10 the public works, recreation, wastewater, Water Department and capital budgets will be examined. The library budget will be taken up at a May 12 workshop. Workshop meetings start in the council chambers at 6 p.m. and are streamed live on the city of Ellsworth Facebook page and YouTube channel.