BROWNVILLE, Maine — For the first time since LD 1 imposed a municipal tax cap levy for municipalities in 2005, the proposed Brownville budget exceeds that amount.
The town’s tax cap is $247,925 and the proposed municipal budget for 2009 is $322,250, a difference of $74,325. The increase is attributed to a decrease in revenues as well as an increase in contracted wages, according to Town Manager Sophia Wilson.
“Even though our expense budget is only up 2.8 percent, we’ve lost a lot of state revenue,” Wilson said Wednesday. Because of a shift in the tree growth administrative formula, the town’s tree growth revenue dropped by 50 percent, she said.
The town has about 17,000 acres in tree growth. In addition, the town has been advised it will lose another 10 percent in tree growth as part of Gov. John Baldacci’s curtailment. Revenue sharing also is expected to take a dive from about $215,000 to $166,000, Wilson said.
If residents vote not to exceed the tax cap levy at the 7 p.m. Monday, March 16, town meeting, then the $74,325 will need to be eliminated. The town meeting will be held at Brownville Elementary School.
Cuts that could be made if residents reject the increase include a reduction in town office staffing levels, which would result in reduced hours of operation; the elimination of a police department shift per week; the elimination of streetlights; no more winter maintenance of sidewalks; the institution of a pay-per-bag system for each bag of household garbage collected; and the elimination of the maintenance of the fire lanes in Brownville Junction.
Residents will be asked to approve a special project that involves a follow-up for the revaluation now under way. The new land values have been completed and were rolled into last year’s tax commitment, according to Wilson. The property values are expected to be completed by early summer. While town officials feel they have enough for the revaluation, there are no funds for the appeal process.
As such, town officials are asking to raise and appropriate $5,000 to pay the assessor’s agent’s time through the appeal process and to have the tax maps redrawn and reprinted.
Residents also will be asked to approve an ordinance to establish a local five-member board of assessment review to hear property value appeals. Appeals denied at the local level are now heard by the Piscataquis County commissioners. The new board would replace that process, Wilson said. Residents would still be eligible to appeal the local board’s decision in Superior Court, she said.