City Council approved the proposed fiscal budget at its July 21 meeting. Many councilors said it was the toughest budget yet because of the coronavirus.

The council kept the budget to just a $33,810 increase compared to last year with a mill rate increase from 22.9 to 23.4. Last year’s budget was $10,401,972, compared to this year’s budget totaling $10,435,782, a rise of just 0.33%.

Councilor Mike Hurley said he was bothered by the funding cuts that were made to keep the budget down. He said it was unsustainable for the future and that the city cannot survive on small budget increases like this in the future.

“We hear from people, ‘why can't you do this, why can't you do that.’ Well, because we can't, that's why,” Hurley said.

Councilor Mary Mortier said she considered each line item carefully this year. It was important to her and the other councilors to be fiscally conservative because of unknown complications residents and businesses might face from the coronavirus.

Councilor Neal Harkness said the tight budget was an example of why the city needs developments like Nordic Aquafarms’ land-based fish farm, which has become a topic of contention among local residents.

He said Gov. Paul LePage and his administration gave little funding back to towns and just as soon as the city started seeing more state funding under the new governor’s administration, the coronavirus hit.

Mayor Eric Sanders said he was satisfied that no city workers lost their jobs in the process of developing the budget this year. There were no last-minute changes before councilors voted to approve the budget.