The first reading of the City of Bradford’s millage rate passed Tuesday night without the approval of Mayor Tom Riel, who said if a tax increase is necessary, it must be as small as possible.

The tax increase is now at 2.91 mills, lower than it was at the Nov. 25 city council meeting.

“Eighteen days ago, we were at 4.7 mills, with an $845,000 shortfall,” Riel said. Since then, with hard work and diligence, more than $333,000 was stripped from the budget. 

“Now we have a $512,000 shortfall,” Riel said. “It’s a work in progress.”

Before the final reading of the city’s budget ordinance, Riel said, “I imagine the millage ordinance should and would be lower.”

Riel said for a person with a home valued at $38,000, the 2.91 millage increase would mean an additional $9.18 per month in taxes. For a $50,000 home, it would be an additional $12.08 in taxes per month.

“I think the 2.9 mills is unacceptable,” Riel said, adding that he feels city officials and staff should work hard to lower that shortfall.

The total tax rate for the city, as proposed on the first reading of the budget ordinance, is 18.92 mills. Riel’s was the lone dissenting vote.

In other business, council appointed Kevin Huff and Mark Smith as property maintenance officers for the city’s new property maintenance department. Both appointments are effective Dec. 29.

Council also rescinded the first reading of a property maintenance ordinance from Oct. 14, and reintroduced it on first reading at Tuesday’s meeting.

The newest version of the ordinance replaces sections of the city’s current ordinances, including the following: brush and weeds; dangerous buildings; property maintenance; vector control; and storage of vehicles and machinery. Any ordinances dealing with those issues will be repealed with the final approval of this ordinance, according to the city council agenda.

Council also passed on first reading changes to the city’s solid waste ordinance, increasing the fees from $10 to $35 per item for all white goods and appliances the city refuse workers pick up. Each item is to be scheduled for pickup and paid for in advance, the resolution reads.

The resolution also increases the amount for an excess-bag fee for customers who frequently exceed the four-trash-bag limit for garbage collection. The fee will go from $1 to $1.50 per bag.

In other matters, council passed a number of matching facade grants for improvements in the city’s downtown. A grant of $344.34 went to Robin Palmer for signage at Whimsical Studio; $1,636.50 to Sheikh Iqbal to remove and replace three windows and change the letter on two awnings at Kabob’s at the Option House; $4,400 to James Colligan to remove existing windows, insulate and install new replacement windows at Chosen Acres Realty; $2,244.55 to Todd Hennard for new lighting at Main Street Movie House; $4,725 to Hennard for installation of windows and painting of the second and third floors of Main Street Antiques; and $5,000 to Hennard for repairs and painting of the Main Street Mercantile.

“These are all matching grants and it’s great to see so many people putting funds into Main Street,” Riel said.

Also at the meeting, council set a schedule for meetings for 2015. Council will remain the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 7 p.m., with work sessions optional every Tuesday, as needed, at 6 p.m. Board of health meetings will be scheduled as needed on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is slated for 7 p.m. Dec. 23. The final reading for the city’s 2015 budget, millage ordinance and wage ordinance are scheduled for that meeting.

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