June 23, 2018
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Proposed Machias budget keeps taxes stable

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — The proposed Machias budget will not raise taxes, Town Manager Chris Loughlin said Tuesday.

The $1.8 million budget reflects a .07 decrease in taxation, which was the goal for both the Board of Selectmen and the budget committee.

“They wanted a flat budget from the start,” Loughlin said.

Voting for municipal officials and the annual town meeting will be held next week. Meanwhile, Loughlin said Machias was in good financial health.

“We’re doing pretty good, actually,” he said, adding, “But we really need to increase revenue.”

Although many local companies are expanding and adding workers, those businesses already are paying taxes, he said. “We need to expand the tax base with new businesses and residences.”

Loughlin pointed out that because Machias is the county seat and a service center community, most state and county nonprofits have their main offices here.

“Nonprofits represent 40 percent of our tax base,” he said. “Just between Down East Community Hospital and the University of Maine at Machias, if they were subject to taxation, would mean an additional $1 million in revenue.”

According to the 2011 town report, Machias has $14.4 million in assets and $2.7 million in liabilities and debt.

Loughlin said Machias also is fortunate this year to be projected to receive an increase in state and federal revenue, putting revenues at a predicted 2.5 percent increase.

Total revenues are predicted at $569,870, $20,000 will be taken from surplus, leaving $1.2 million to be raised through taxation. Loughlin said the current mill rate of $20.60 per $1,000 valuation will remain the same. That results in approximately $2,060 in taxes on a $100,000 home.

New expenditures include a police cruiser, an ambulance, $400,000 in road repairs and paving, and $40,000 dedicated to the repair of Center Street. The town also had to fund an extra pay day this year as 2011 has 53 Fridays.

“That alone boosted our wages and salaries by 1.92 percent,” Loughlin said.

He said the union employees would get their normal step increases but that nonunion workers and department heads would get no raises.

Loughlin said the town’s Public Works Department took the biggest hit, losing a half-time position. He said that recent changes in the way state prisoners are categorized has resulted in many fewer prisoners able to do community service work. “We’re managing to hold our own, though,” he said.

Voting for elected officials will be held 9 a.m to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at the town office. Board chairman Aubrey “Chip” Carter and Selectman Cony Upton are running for re-election for two open three-year terms on the board. Stephen Smith is challenging them.

There are three open school board seats with the recent resignation of board member Katherine Cassidy. Gerard NiCastro is running for re-election and Stephen Berry Sr. is a write-in candidate.

The annual town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at the Machias Memorial High School gymnasium.

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