The Belfast City Council approved a mill rate of 18.1 (dollars per $1,000 of property value) for 2010-11 at its meeting Sept. 7, extending the due date by two weeks.

In his manager’s report of Sept. 3, City Manager Joe Slocum credited the Council with keeping the tax rate level, despite a drop in state revenues and some cost increases. But he cautioned that it would be difficult to hold to the same levels beyond this year.

“There is not much wiggle room left,” the report read, “and it’s is only a matter of time before utility cost, health care cost, insurance cost, materials cost, etc. will push our net expenses higher.”

The mill rate approved Tuesday night was not all about belt tightening. In order to make ends meet, the Council approved drawing $620,000 from surplus, though Slocum said the city would likely gain some of that money back at the end of the year in unspent or partially unspent budget lines.

Slocum credited Tax Assessor Bob Whitely with adding $4 million in new valuation to the tax rolls. The new value on the books went some way toward making up for lost state revenue, Slocum said.

Unlike the $20 million of new valuation the city saw when MBNA arrived in the mid-1990s, Slocum said the $4 million would not likely cause a shift in the amount residents had to contribute to the school district budget, for which the state uses a formula based partly on local valuations.

Slocum stressed that the city portion of residents’ tax bills would drop this year from 35.52 percent to 34.39 percent of the total bill, which includes county and school taxes.

Councilor Mike Hurley backed the city manager’s sentiment.

“I think it’s a really good number to remind people of, because I don’t mind taking 35 percent of the responsibility, but there’s another 65 percent out there,” he said.

Slocum recommended pushing the due date for taxes back because the city was sending out tax bills later than in past years. The Council agreed, moving the due date from Oct. 15 to Oct. 29.