Bath residents could see 5 percent property tax increase

Posted May 23, 2013, at 5:10 p.m.

BATH, Maine — With city, school and county costs tallied, the city could see a tax increase of nearly 5 percent next year.

The fiscal 2014 municipal budget, unveiled Wednesday, will be voted on by the City Council on June 5.

Also Wednesday, the council enacted a temporary moratorium on strip clubs in the city.

Next year’s proposed $14.6 million city spending plan reflects an approximately $300,000 increase over the current year. Of that amount, $7.4 million could come from taxes, a 1.4 percent hike.

The bulk of the increase comes from rising operating costs, according to the city’s fiscal 2014 budget message.

Included in those costs are West Bath’s lawsuit against Regional School Unit 1. West Bath is suing the district to recover $1.9 million the town says it overpaid in the first four years of the school district’s existence, and Bath has joined RSU 1 in its defense of the lawsuit.

Other expenses are health insurance and increased costs of fuel and salt at the Public Works Department. Those expenses are offset by reductions in general liability, workers’ compensation and debt service, according to the city.

Meanwhile, Sagadahoc County taxes could rise nearly half a percent, to $1.65 million, while Bath’s payment to RSU 1 could increase 3.1 percent, to $9.1 million. Those hikes could result in an overall Bath tax increase of nearly 5 percent, to reach $18.16 million.

The six-month moratorium on strip clubs was enacted by a 7-1 vote Wednesday night, City Manager Bill Giroux said.

Councilor David Sinclair cast the dissenting vote.

The moratorium, which will temporarily prohibit licenses and permits for “adult-use establishments,” received initial approval on May 1 and required a second vote for passage. It will take effect in 20 days.

Giroux said the city attorney has completed the first draft of changes to the ordinance that would further regulate “adult business establishments.”

The draft ordinance will be presented to the City Council on June 5.

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