Task Force For Climate Emergency Discusses Budget’s Sustainability Items
BAR HARBOR—Residents looking to have a jump start on the budget process can head over to the town’s website and see a preview of Town Manager Kevin Sutherland’s budget presentation that he’ll give to the Town Council and Warrant Committee tonight. The 15-page presentation details a budget message, tax calculation, budget summary for warrant articles, service enhancement recommendations and a summary of the 2023 Council goals.
Sutherland will introduce the municipal budget and school budget in Council Chambers at the Bar Harbor Municipal Building beginning at 6:30 p.m..
The budget runs for the town’s fiscal year, which is from July 1 through June 30. The year is referred to by its last year, so the upcoming FY 2024 budget will run from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024.
In last year’s budget presentation, Sutherland also explained the difference between property tax rate and mil rate, which can be confusing.
Separate links on the town’s website, show as separated documents:
- Service enhancements,
- Cruise Ship Fund,
- Parking Fund,
- Capital Improvement Program,
- Charts and outstanding debt,
- Cooperating agencies, and
- School budget.
Sutherland is recommending an increase on hourly parking for metered parking “from $2 in the prime locations and $1.50 in all others, to $4 and $2.”
“This helps to increase the bottom line for revenues and partially offsets the costs of paving and other road-related capital needs,” he wrote.
The cruise ship fund was also pulled out and detailed with Sutherland writing,
Most of the budget in Bar Harbor is paid for via property taxes.
TASK FORCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE’S TAKE
The Task Force on Climate Change Monday night listened to a detailed analysis of Sustainability Coordinator Laura Berry so that the task force could take a clear position on certain aspects of the budget that pertains to its directive. Members also discussed which issues to do public outreach on via op-eds to the Mount Desert Islander and other measures.
In a January 23 memo to the task force, Berry said that she reviewed the upcoming proposed budget and “identified the following service enhancements related to the goals of the Bar Harbor Climate Action Plan” that might be an interest to the task force.
The task force unanimously recommended to Town Council that it accept the data architect role, which would cost an additional $47,369. It also voted unanimously to support the energy management licensing and fees for $6,200.
The task force did not fully discuss the possibility of a community coordinator outreach budget of $15,000 to be used by this committee and the rest of the town.
The sustainability budget would be used for match funding for other projects and cross-departmental work, state and federal incentives. It moves the annual funding for the task force into a broader sustainability account with an additional $15,000 over its current $10,000. This additional money is not currently in the budget that is being presented by Sutherland tonight. The task force unanimously supported the full funding level.
Another request is $5,000 for working with the UMaine Mitchell Center for Sustainability for a pilot project that did a limited waste audit of municipal solid waste at the transfer station last July. The project gave the town some data about the community’s waste. This additional expenditure would create a full year estimate about the tonnage of waste in Bar Harbor. That amount and how it is disposed of helps the town understand its greenhouse gas emissions, which comes from waste.
Town Planner Michele Gagnon recommended that the committee, which was running out of time for its meeting, not yet discuss the ask for a housing and community planner, which would cost $106,478. She stressed the item was important to be looked at in context of the budget as a whole, adding that this is especially important because it’s a big ask and she is concerned about the overall budget. She’s preparing a presentation to better explain the rationale and need. It’s important, she said, that it is the governance that decides if this is the way for the town to go.
Capital Improvement Program
Among the documents released already on the town’s website is a capital improvement program outline. According to the Bar Harbor Town Charter, the CIP is
“a program consisting of projects any one of which costs more than $5,000 and meets one or more of the following requirements:
- construction time extends to two or more fiscal years;
- includes planning for, construction of or major renovation of a town building, wharf, public way, sewer, drain or appurtenant equipment; or
- replacement or acquisition of equipment with life expectancy of five years or longer.”
LINKS TO VARIOUS BUDGET DOCUMENTS
To watch the meeting, click here, or attend in person.
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