Revenue-sharing cuts force Lincoln to increase tax rate

Posted Oct. 07, 2013, at 6:03 p.m.
Ruth Birtz
Ruth Birtz

LINCOLN, Maine — Cuts in state revenue-sharing forced town officials to raise taxes $155 on properties worth $50,000 effective immediately, officials said Monday.

Last week, Tax Assessor Ruth Birtz raised the town’s mill rate from $19.86 per $1,000 of valuation to $22.96 in response to declines in the town’s total valuation and an increase in the town’s budget, she said.

“With new construction visible throughout town, I am sure residents would be surprised to learn that the overall town valuation has gone down,” Birtz said in a statement. “I anticipate it will continue to drop over the next few years.”

Some of the losses, Birtz said, come from the state Business Equipment Exemption program initiated in 2007, which shields local businesses from paying about $137,000 in taxes annually. This will continue until the program lapses in five years, she said.

Lincoln currently has $80 million in business equipment, she said.

Birtz added that the town also averages adding $2 million per year in real estate valuation. Business equipment tax drops 10 percent per year if no new equipment is added to the tax rolls.

Several businesses have moved into Lincoln or have rebuilt there in recent months. The Dollar Tree opened an outlet about two weeks ago, and McDonald’s restaurant finished a total reconstruction in the Hannaford parking lot, both on West Broadway.

The Planning Board is due to meet at 6 p.m. Oct. 15, at the town office. They will discuss a proposal by S.W. Collins to build a hardware store at West Broadway and Penobscot Valley Avenue.

Town government officials have also attempted to save money by combining the fire and police chief positions and by holding open several positions. They also combined with East Millinocket’s Fire Department to create an ambulance service that is expected to bring in more than $50,000 next year.

Tax bills will be mailed this week. Taxes are figured by multiplying the mill rate times the total assessed value of a property, so a property valued at $1,000 would be taxed $22.96 under the new tax rate.

Town Manager William Lawrence and Steve Clay, chairman of the town council, did not return messages left Monday.

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