DEXTER, Maine —The Town Council set a mill rate of up to $16 per $1,000 in property valuation Thursday to fund a net budget of $3,571,931, which also was approved the same night.
Town Manager Dave Pearson said Thursday that the biggest increases were reflected in the county tax and SAD 46 costs. Of the approximately $12 million school budget, $1.68 million will be raised through property taxes and that local amount reflects an increase of about $299,000 from last year, he said.
“On the whole, this is the third year in a row, I think, we’ve trimmed the municipal budget but we keep hemorrhaging revenue,” which makes it hard to keep up with costs, Pearson said. “The council worked very hard on this [budget].”
Less revenue, rising state valuation and the net increase in the budget of $299,374 — the approximate gap in the school budget — will require about a one mill increase in the tax rate, Pearson said. While the final mill rate will not be determined until taxes have been committed, he said it appeared the mill rate would rise to $15.50 per $1,000 property valuation.
Mark Stephens, owner of the Brewster Inn, suggested that the $19,200 budgeted for economic development was not enough considering he spent in excess of that amount to market his business.
“I just think that figure is incredibly, incredibly low,” Stephens said. “If you’re trying to bring people into this town, spend money in this town and create jobs, economic development, $19,200 is nothing.”
Pearson said the $19,200 was basically the salary for an economic development specialist. In recent years, that specialist has helped the town bring in more than $4 million in grants, including for airport improvements, he said.
As approved by the council Thursday, taxes will be due and payable on or before Oct. 28, and outstanding taxes paid after that date will be charged 7 percent interest per year.
Pearson said the town ended the year in the black and about $37,000, that amount which wasn’t reserved by the council for projects, would lapse into an undesignated fund account. He also said the town’s investment of $1.5 million in capital reserve funds earned about $100,000 in interest last year. In addition, the town’s certificates of deposit earned about $3,600 in interest, and the cemetery fund had interest of about $44,000.
The town’s two oldest residents, Rose Morancie and Carl Cuthbert, both 100, died last week, Pearson announced.
“They were amazing people, both of them,” he said.
Town officials are now searching for two new recipients of the Boston Post Canes.