Bath council OKs budget, tax hike; Rogers resigns

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a $15.9 million budget.

Near the end of the meeting, meanwhile, Councilor Kyle Rogers announced his immediate resignation because he is moving.

Rogers served two terms on the City Council from 2006-2012 and was re-elected last year. He said his job requires him to move to England.

Rogers’ Ward 3 seat will remain vacant until the city’s regular November election, City Clerk Mary White said.

The fiscal 2016 spending plan is up about $628,000 from this year, and will result in a municipal tax increase of 2.24 percent, to $8.3 million.

With assessments to Regional School Unit 1 ($9.6 million, up 2.31 percent) and Sagadahoc County ($1.7 million, up 0.1 percent) factored in, the total city property tax will increase 4.64 percent, to a levy of $19.6 million.

Forty-nine percent of taxes support school costs, while 42 percent go to the city and 9 percent to the county, according to information the city provided.

Bath’s current tax rate is $20.20 per $1,000 of property valuation. Finance Director Juli Millett said Monday that she estimates the new rate could be about $21.15, although that number has yet to be set by the city assessor.

With such an increase, the owner of a home valued at $200,000 could see a tax hike of $190, according to Millett.

The budget includes a hike in operating costs, while most non-tax revenues are flat, according to a report from Millett’s office. Ambulance billing revenue, up $50,000 due to volume, is the exception, Millett said.

Most of the spending increase is due to increased costs for insurance, fire building and supplies, salaries, and payment on a settlement between Regional School Unit 1 and West Bath, according to Millett’s office.

The City Council voted in December 2014 to spend $1.2 million to settle a 2-year-old lawsuit with West Bath. That town sued RSU 1 and Bath to recover $1.9 million the town believed it overpaid in the school district’s first four years of existence.

Reduced legal expenses due to settlement of that lawsuit, as well as operating cuts in all departments to reduce the tax impact, offset the fiscal 2016 spending increase, Millett’s office reported.

The spending plan also reflects a hike in capital purchases within the city’s sewer and landfill funds, paid for by fees.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.