BRUNSWICK — Of the city’s 2 percent income tax rate, city officials will bring a temporary 0.65-percent levy originally passed in 2009 back to voters in November so residents can decide if it should be permanent.
The levy, which funds the police and fire departments, was originally passed a decade ago as a 0.5-percent, five-year levy, and has been renewed once and replaced in 2017 as a 0.65-percent, five-year levy.
By 2020, the income tax levy will reach its full collection for this term at $6.6 million. But the need to fund safety service is ongoing, which is why City Council voted Monday to place the issue on the ballot as a continuous levy.
“There are no changes to what’s existing other than going from a five-year levy to a continuous one,” Finance Director Todd Fischer said.
The 0.65-percent levy is just a piece of the city’s funding pie.
In addition, there is a 1-percent income tax levy that dates back to the late 1960s that generates about $10 million annually and a 0.35-percent levy passed in 1996 that generates about $4.5 million annually.
The 0.65-percent levy is the only temporary levy. The city would like to be able to rely on that funding for the safety departments for long-term planning and stability so making it continuous would help.
“It funds police and fire staffing and the need for police and fire is obviously significant,” City Manager Carl DeForest said.
“It directly impacts the safety and well-being of the entire community whether you live here, work here or are a visitor here.
“The funding for the police and fire staffing is perpetual and the funding currently is temporary so we want to try and transition this to be a continuous levy so that we can ensure that we have the funding for our police and fire staff.”
Police, fire, EMS and dispatch services cost the city about $11.5 million, according to the 2018 budget. The 0.65-percent safety levy provides roughly half of the funding for the departments.