LINCOLN, Maine — Taxpayers with property valued at $100,000 could see a $141 tax increase if voters approve the proposed $12.28 million school budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said Tuesday.
Thanks to new state laws, voters twice will get to decide whether the increase should occur this year in the schools of RSU 67, which serves Chester, Lincoln and Mattawamkeag. A districtwide town meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 23, at Mattanawcook Academy. A validation election will be held afterward at that school and at the town offices of the other towns 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, June 25, school officials said.
School officials will meet at the Mattawamkeag town office for an informational meeting on the budget at 6:30 p.m. today. They met Monday at the Chester town office and Tuesday at Mattanawcook Academy in informational sessions.
The town’s mill rate could increase from 19.24 to 20.65, or $20.65 per $1,000 in valuation, due to a state-mandated increase in local funding under the state’s Essential Programs and Services formula of $65,000 and a cut in state EPS funding of $131,326.
The Penobscot County assessment also increased by $24,108, or 8 percent, Goodwin said.
The Town Council and the RSU 67 board of directors worked to limit spending as much as possible. The school budget increased spending by about four-fifths of a single percentage point. Town spending is set at $5,206,437, a decrease of $65,225 from this fiscal year, which ends June 30, Goodwin said.
“Our budget is very lean. We haven’t left much wiggle room,” Goodwin said Tuesday. “If something major and unforeseen comes up, we will have to go back to the council for more funding. We just don’t have the funding in our budget.”
Still, even with that, the town’s municipal budget creates about 6 percent, or 6 cents per $1,000 in valuation, of the mill rate increase, Goodwin said.
Even with the $64,000 decrease in spending, which represents a cut of about 1.2 percent, Goodwin anticipates within the town’s budget a decrease in revenues of about $230,132, or 8 percent, she said.
Any tax increase resultant from that likely will be offset by an anticipated increase in valuation of about $3.5 million, which likely would leave a mill rate increase for municipal services of about 6 cents per $1,000 of valuation, she said.
Neither the town nor school budget reduces services.
The RSU 67 board considered cutting several junior high or high school sports or assistant coaches from its budget, but restored them with a 9-1-2 vote by cutting a $91,000 expenditure for a four-year program aimed at placing 300 Apple laptop computers in the high school for take-home use.
A new police cruiser, Public Works Department bulldozer and a street sweeper, wireless Internet service at the public library, new roofing at the Transfer Station Recycling Building and appropriations to the town firetruck and public works building accounts are among the funded items in the town’s $755,115 capital budget account, Goodwin said.
The firetruck and street sweeper purchase will require voter approval in November, however.