BERLIN — The Berlin City Council passed the city’s fiscal year 2013 budget Monday night and was able to restore positions that had been cut in the proposed budget.
The $32,603,399 general fund budget includes $280,000 for street repairs. The proposal in May for the general fund budget was $32,100,598. The current year’s general fund budget is $31,789,106. The mayor and council are using $800,000 from the undesignated fund and $860,000 from the 2012 operating surplus to offset taxes, according to Patrick MacQueen, Berlin city manager.
City officials still estimate a tax increase of $.53 to $.90 per $1,000 of property value, but that was the increase estimated at the time of the public hearing in May, when a half-time secretary, two workers in the solid waste department, a firefighter, and a parks and recreation employee were all facing layoffs on July 1.
After the budget hearing, MacQueen said positions could be put back in the budget if final numbers changed for the better, which they did.
The current tax rate is $31.70 per $1,000 in property value. Including spending categories that are offset by revenues from other sources, the budget reaches $38,251,745.
Mayor Paul Grenier praised the school district administration and the present school board, calling them “excellent stewards of scare educational resources.” There was, he said Tuesday, a significant reduction in special education costs.
The Berlin School District turned back over $500,000 in unspent funds to the city, according to Grenier. Over the past several years the city has enacted stricter housing regulations. He said they have seen as exodus of those who came to the city simply for the low-cost housing.
Those new residents, most of whom had no ties to the city, came with high needs, straining both the school and welfare budgets.
The city has also aggressively tackled the excess, substandard housing left from when there was a larger population. With the help of federal and other funds, the city has demolished dilapidated housing and has rehabbed many of the city’s multi-family housing units, and in the process has made the rental units more marketable.
“We’re starting to bear that fruit,” Grenier said of the city’s approach to revitalization of its housing stock.
Grenier said that they also renegotiated the terms of a five-year $5 million bond, getting it extended four more years.
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Sara Young-Knox may be reached at email@example.com.