May 24, 2018
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Drop in valuation will affect Orono taxpayers

By Jessica Bloch, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — Loss of valuation in town is expected to have repercussions for taxpayers in the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, Town Manager Cathy Conlow wrote in a message sent Thursday to Orono residents on the town’s e-mail list.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the budget at 7 p.m. Monday in the Town Council chambers.

In the proposal, municipal expenditures for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1, will be $8.1 million.

The proposed budget contains no layoffs, she wrote, but the town’s total valuation is expected to drop by $17 million, which will result in about $300,000 in tax revenues spread across the school, county and town.

“Despite the fact that the budget asks for no new tax dollars for municipal services, most residents will see an increase in taxes for municipal services due to a loss in valuation,” she wrote. “Both [Penobscot County] and the school are asking for new tax revenues in addition to the valuation losses.”

One key factor affecting valuation will be the loss of tax revenue which was the result of the Orono Housing Foundation’s application for tax-exempt status, which represents a net loss of valuation of $9 million, or more than $183,000 in taxes.

In addition, the town will lose $400,000 in state aid.

Other factors include the town’s new library, for which operating expenses will result in an additional $86,000, including $50,000 for debt service. At the time the library budget decision was made, Conlow wrote, the state was yet not feeling the effects of the financial crisis.

Library hours will be reduced, Conlow wrote.

Town employees’ jobs are safe in the proposal, although one position was eliminated when a library employee was moved to a vacant position in the Public Safety Department. The town is asking employees to take a 1.5 percent reduction in this year’s cost-of-living adjustment. The reduction has yet to be negotiated with police and firefighters’ unions.

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