The Maine Municipal Association wrapped up their two-day conference Thursday.
Elected officials and other municipal employees were among those at the Augusta Civic Center for the annual convention. The hot topic of the two-day event; balancing budgets without cutting vital services and doing it with less money.
“At what level do municipal services reach a point where you can’t go much lower without giving up things people expect to receive?” said Peter Nielsen, President of MMA and the Town Manager in Oakland.
Calais Mayor Marianne Moore also knows all too well the difficulties of balancing her budget without cutting necessary services.
“You know we’re all faced with that same reality,” Moore said. “Plus you’re seeing your healthcare costs go up. you’re seeing your fuel. The normal expenses have gone up and you’re losing your revenues as well. So we’re all faced with trying to make a balanced budget without having to reduce services.”
Explaining some of those tough budgeting decisions to residents can be difficult which is why these folks are urging people to get more involved in the process.
“I mean I had a city council meeting last week that had 185 people at it,” Moore said. “Like I said it was refreshing to see them come out and get involved and find out what’s going on in the city.”
The civic center was also full of vendors offering goods and services to municipalities. Nielsen said it’s opportunities like this that allow private sector businesses to network with municipal leaders fostering potential business relationships.
“Well the importance to the Maine economy is evident all around us here. There’s a lot of interplay between the businesses that are here and municipal officials that come seeking services with paving, with banking, with insurance with all kinds of supplies that municipalities need. There’s an awful lot of people who depend on local government for their livelihood in the private sector,” Nielsen said.
Organizers of the two-day conference say more than 2,000 people attended the event this year.