MILLINOCKET, Maine — Reductions in state funding to several areas forced Town Assessor Michael Noble to increase town property taxes next year about $20 over this year’s rate on dwellings worth $50,000, officials said Wednesday.
Noble set the new mill rate at 23.2 mills, up from 22.8 last year. That means that an owner of a property assessed at $50,000 — with no other tax exemptions — will pay $1,160 in taxes instead of $1,140 over the next year.
Tax bills for the first half of the fiscal year, which began July 1, will go out this week. Payments are due Nov. 19, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said.
Given the considerable cutbacks in state funding on the state’s revenue sharing with municipalities, the homestead and tree growth tax exemptions and the state funding for public schools, the new tax rate could have been a lot higher, Conlogue said.
“It is always too bad to see taxes go up, but to see them go up as little as this from all of the state program hardships, we have done quite well,” Conlogue said Wednesday.
But Conlogue acknowledged the situation isn’t really that simple. Almost all town residents, for example, benefit from the state’s Homestead Exemption program, and those residents will see an overall tax increase far greater than $20, he said.
Under the homestead program, this year $10,000 of a home’s value is exempt from taxes, down from $13,000 a year ago. That reduction, and the mill rate increase, increases the taxes paid on a $50,000 home by $84 — but only $16 of the $84 is generated by the mill rate increase, Conlogue said.
“That is only a piece of the [state and local] tax increase, but it shows how important the Homestead Exemption has been to working families on their property taxes,” Conlogue said.
According to the state government website www.maine.gov, the Homestead Exemption provides a measure of property tax relief for certain individuals who have owned homestead property in Maine for at least 12 months and make the property they occupy on April 1 their permanent residence.
For definitions of and applications for state tax exemption programs, visit maine.gov/revenue/propertytax/sidebar/exemptions. The next round of town property tax bills will be mailed April 15, Conlogue said.
Though it is difficult to foresee how the town’s tax situation will develop, with the elections looming and the state’s economy uncertain, Conlogue doubted that taxes would drop next year.