North Yarmouth to vote Saturday on $2.7M budget

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Town Meeting will vote Saturday, April 11, on a $2.7 million municipal budget for 2016, a decrease of nearly $117,000 from current spending.

The town budget by itself would cause the tax rate to drop 19.6 percent, from the current $17.15 per $100,000 of property valuation, to $16.67. But a 4.9 percent Cumberland County tax increase (to about $13,600), and a potential 8 percent School Administrative District 51 tax hike (to $6.4 million), would cause a net 4 percent property tax increase, resulting in a tax rate of $17.68.

For a home valued at $300,000, that increase would add $159 in annual taxes.

Residents will also vote on spending up to $100,000 from the town’s Future Lands fund for the $1.13 million acquisition and preservation of Knight’s Pond and Blueberry Hill, a mostly forested tract off Greely Road Extension. The 215-acre undeveloped parcel is mostly in Cumberland, with 50 acres in North Yarmouth.

The Cumberland Town Council in February approved contributing $300,000 from its Open Space Acquisition reserves. Also in hand are $415,000 from foundations and private individuals, and a $225,000 Land for Maine’s Future grant.

But Gov. Paul LePage’s decision to withhold voter-approved bonds earmarked for LMF conservation projects would mean the Knight’s Pond project, and others, would not receive funds for completion.

Whether funding comes through is “an open-ended question right now,” Gregg Caporossi, project manager at the Trust for Public Land, said Monday.

TPL has until the end of May to exercise its option on the property, and will at that point be obligated to close by June 30. The two towns will then acquire their portions of the property from TPL, and convey easements to their respective land trusts, according to Caporossi.

LMF has approximately $2.2 million on hand, an insufficient amount to fund 36 active projects the program is working to complete, the Bangor Daily News reported. The total estimated cost of the projects is $11.35 million.

“Our hope is that Knight’s Pond and Blueberry Hill will be in a position to close by the end of June, and we will have been through the entire LMF review process, to make sure that if the governor releases the $2.2 million, that Knight’s Pond is a likely candidate to receive those funds,” Caporossi said.

He said “we will do our best to put contingency plans in place, so that if the LMF funds don’t flow to the project, we have some recourse of how we’re going to address that.”

Among major reductions proposed in next year’s North Yarmouth budget is an approximately $71,000 cut for Public Works, to about $582,000, thanks largely to better road paving cost estimates.

One significant increase is funding for use of North Yarmouth Memorial School, which SAD 75 closed and transferred to the town last year. Next year’s cost is about $111,000, about double the current year, due to more use of the building.

Town Meeting takes place at North Yarmouth Memorial School at 9 a.m.

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

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.