Milford voters OK municipal, school budgets during delayed town meeting

Posted Sept. 18, 2013, at 6:18 p.m.

MILFORD, Maine — During their later-than-usual annual town meeting Tuesday night, voters approved all of the 45 warrant articles put before them.

The three-hour meeting, held at Dr. Lewis S. Libby School, drew about 85 residents, Town Manager Dawn Adams said Wednesday.

Milford usually holds its annual town meeting and local elections in June. In May, however, the town’s Board of Selectmen voted to postpone the town meeting — during which voters approve the annual operating budget — until after the new fiscal year began on July 1.

The reason for the decision to delay the meeting was uncertainty over how the town would fare under Gov. Paul LePage’s biennial budget plan, which among other things called for the suspension of the state revenue sharing program and major limits on the homestead exemption and circuit breaker property tax relief programs.

Also figuring into selectmen’s concerns was the loss of $6.5 million in formerly taxable property valuation from the Milford Dam, which was the subject of a property tax appeal that former owner PPL Maine won against Milford and the city of Old Town.

While elections went on as planned on June 11, the town meeting did not take place. In a referendum on Election Day, voters granted selectmen’s request for permission to spend up to three months of budget money so the town could continue to operate beyond the end of the fiscal year.

Adams said that voters Tuesday approved the roughly $3.2 million spending plan that selectmen developed for this fiscal year, which began on July 1.

The budget maintains basic town services and includes the town’s share of the $2.2 million water and sewer system project now underway in the Davenport Street area. The bulk of that work is being funded by a $1.6 million loan from USDA Rural Development, she said.

Voters also approved school officials’ $4.6 million budget for this year, Adams said.

Based on the budgets adopted Tuesday night, Milford property owners can expect a small increase in their property tax bills, Adams said.

Adams said the town’s property tax rate is projected to increase to $17.20 per $1,000 in property tax valuation from last year’s $17 per $1,000.

Selectmen will be working on the property tax commitment next week, she said.

“If all goes to plan, the board will set a final [tax] rate and commit taxes so that we can start sending tax bills at the end of the month,” Adams said.

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