By Carol McCracken (Post # 428)
This afternoon the city manager released his proposed budget for the next fiscal year which starts on July 1, 2010. The $196. million budget proposal includes “changes” due to the continued recession and reductions in state aid. The proposed budget includes cuts in services as well as a tax increase of 1.4% for property owners.
The proposed budget calls for the reduction of forty city positions, twenty-five of which are currently filled. “Laying people off during a time when unemployment rates continue to rise was truly the option of last resort,” said city manager Joe Gray in his press release.
One of the more visible items that may be cut from the budget is the annual Fourth of July Fireworks on the Eastern Promenade. That would be a savings of $40,000. Dating back before anyone can remember its beginnings, many on the Hill were disappointed to hear of the possible cut this afternoon. Hearing the news Chris Teret, said: “That’s crazy. I’ll be sad. It’s my favorite day on the Hill. The Prom is packed with people.” Matt Cerielski said: “It really depends on how they will use that money.”
Sofia Agopian who grew up on the Hill said: “I always went as a kid to the fireworks, so this news is a real bummer. You’d think that Portland would have the fireworks since it’s the largest city in Maine.” Gaby Bassi said: “It’s always been a nice, patriotic event for the community, even though I’m not an American.” “I’ve been here watching the fireworks for 44 years and I’d miss them, but not the mess left behind,” said Charles Ferrante, 75 years old. “I’d be ticked off,” said Bob Guiliana, of Wilson Street. “Every year for the past 30 years I’ve held a party at my house.” Lisa Weiss, walking on the Eastern Promenade said: “its a neat community event. Eeryone gets excited. I grew up watching the fireworks on the E. Prom and Back Cove. It was awesome.” Finally, Steve Jacobs a satelite truck operator with Channel 8 news, (see above left photo), said he’s been covering the Fourth of July Fireworks for the past fifteen years. “I like the atmosphere up here. People with their dogs and children sitting on their blankets. I guess they’ll have to find something else for us to cover that day!”
Meanwhile, this is not the first budget cut the Munjoy Hill Library has faced; there were other threatened cuts when located at Adams School. Walking outside of the East End Community School where the library is now located, Don and Ada Oblins, both said: “We’ll miss it. We walk past here every day. It’s part of our lovely walk and we use the library often. It gets a lot of use.”
The proposed budget will be presented to the city council on April 5th. A city council public hearing on the city budget will be held on May 3rd. The city council is scheduled to take a final vote on the city budget May 17th.