N. Yarmouth budget could drop 9.5%, taxes could rise 4%

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Next year’s municipal budget could drop 9.5 percent, but reduced revenues could cause town taxes to increase 4 percent.

Those numbers are based on a Board of Selectmen recommendation to spend $2.4 million in fiscal 2014, an approximately $253,000 reduction from the current budget.

A loss in municipal income, from $1.8 million to $1.5 million, is built into that recommendation, resulting in a municipal tax appropriation of about $926,000, up from nearly $891,000 in fiscal 2013.

Due to a revaluation going on this year, the tax rate impact may not be known until July, Administrative Assistant Marnie Diffin said last week.

Adding in about $273,000 in Cumberland County tax (up from nearly $255,000), about $34,000 in overlay, and a proposed $5.7 million School Administrative District 51 tax (up from $5.5 million), North Yarmouth’s total tax appropriation could rise from the current $6.7 million to $7.3 million next year.

The Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee recommend different expenditures in several line items. Under Public Works, the Budget Committee is calling for about $633,000 to be spent, which includes paving North Road. The Board of Selectmen favors that, along with another $45,000 to be spent on a “chip sealing” process for Town Farm Road.

In chip sealing, coarse rock is laid instead of asphalt. It is noisier to drive on and not as smooth a surface, but costs significantly less than normal pavement, Diffin said. It has not been used in North Yarmouth.

“We wanted to try it on a road that had traffic, but not too much; houses on it, but not too close to the road,” she said.

North Yarmouth is budgeted to receive $185,000 for the current fiscal year in state revenue sharing. The Board of Selectmen is planning for revenue of $150,000 for next year, while the Budget Committee plans for $100,000.

On the other hand, the Board of Selectmen wants to use $150,000 out of the Unassigned Fund Balance, down from the current $230,000, while the Budget Committee wants to use $190,000.

One significant added expense proposed in next year’s budget is the first phase of a proposed economic development plan, the goal of which is to turn a triangular area in the center of town into a more visible, active and inviting town center. The project would cost $152,000, but legal fees raise that amount to $155,000, which would be funded through a multi-year bond.

Also in the budget is $45,000 to have an architect determine the cost to renovate Wescustogo Hall. That work would be funded by a bond if approved by a special Town Meeting vote, Diffin said.

One factor causing the net budget decrease is the completion of Mill Road reconstruction, which was a $250,000 expenditure in the current budget.

Residents will vote on the municipal budget item by item at the June 15 Town Meeting.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. 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.