BUCKSPORT, Maine — The town’s new budget for the coming year has met the Town Council’s admonition to keep taxes the same.
The council last week approved a municipal budget that will keep the tax rate at its current level of 12.75 mills.
“I think it’s safe to say that most taxpayers will not see an increase in their tax bill,” Town Manager Roger Raymond said Monday.
The total municipal budget was $5,220,072, a decrease of $243,704 or 4.63 percent from the current municipal budget.
The town, however, had significant decreases in revenues from last year, which forced the council to approve some cuts in the proposed budget. According to Raymond, Bucksport received less in state revenue-sharing funds and had a large decrease in the amount it receives in interest on investment. Last year, the town received about $400,000 in earnings on investments, he said. That interest is projected to be down around $100,000 for the coming year.
“That’s a significant loss of revenues,” he said.
The town covered some of that loss by reducing the amount allocated for capital improvements and with savings on energy costs, both in heating and transportation fuels. There were some savings in salaries, as well. Longtime employees retired, their replacements are starting out lower on the pay scale and the town reclassified one position in the recreation department from full-time to part-time.
Given the current economic conditions and the uncertainty surrounding them, the council earlier this year had set a goal of no tax increase for the coming year. The budget meets that goal, Raymond said, and at the same time, meets the town’s contracted salary obligations, including a 3 percent increase for contracted employees, and also includes $400,000 for street and highway improvements.
The municipal budget will be added to the town’s share of the regional school unit budget, which also was approved last week. The town’s share amounts to $5,378,158.
The total amount to be raised through taxes this year is $1,209 less than the current year, according to Raymond. That would represent a decrease of about one-tenth of a mill on the tax rate, but Raymond said the town’s assessor has not yet completed the assessments for the year. Despite that, Raymond said he was confident in saying there would be no tax increase unless there had been significant improvements to individual properties.
The budget goes into effect on July 1.