SAD 51 budget could raise taxes nearly 8% in Cumberland, North Yarmouth

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CUMBERLAND — The overall assessment from School Administrative District 51 to its two member towns could increase 7.8 percent in fiscal 2013.

Cumberland could see a tax rate increase of 50 cents per $1,000 of property valuation, a climb of 3.1 percent. The increase would be about $150 a year on a home valued at $300,000.

North Yarmouth could see a tax rate increase of between 94 and 98 cents, or about about 7.1 percent, pending final valuations. The owner of a $300,000 home there could see an annual increase in school taxes of between $282 and $294.

Explaining one factor behind the sharing of costs between the two towns, SAD 51 Finance Director Scott Poulin last week said that as a percentage of the overall (state-equalized) valuation of the two communities, North Yarmouth’s increased slightly, shifting about $130,000 to that town.

North Yarmouth’s percentage of the total combined valuation has increased this year from 28.7 percent to 29.4 percent, Poulin said.

“It’s not like North Yarmouth’s valuation is skyrocketing,” he said. “It’s as a percent of the total.”

Another key factor, Poulin said, is the recent growth of Cumberland’s tax base.

“They’ve been aggressively trying to soften the tax rate to their (town) by seeking commercial value or other property values,” he said. “And North Yarmouth hasn’t had … the same effect of that in their community. So the burden of the taxes fall mostly on the property taxpayer as opposed to being shared across a commercial tax base of some kind.”

The budget could increase 5.3 percent, from $28.9 million to $30.4 million. The fiscal 2012 budget was a nearly 3 percent increase over the previous year, and followed three years of flat budgets of $28 million.

The School Board will vote on the budget on May 7. Cumberland and North Yarmouth residents will vote twice on next year’s spending plan, first at a town meeting-style gathering on June 7, and then in a budget validation referendum on June 12.

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.