Topsham taxes may rise while town budget shrinks

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TOPSHAM — If approved at Town Meeting next month, the fiscal 2015 municipal budget could decline about $18,000, to $8.56 million.

But with assessments to School Administrative District 75 (up 9.16 percent as currently proposed) and Sagadahoc County (up 3.14 percent) included, and revenues and reimbursements subtracted, Topsham’s total tax commitment could increase nearly $854,000, to $16.2 million.

That would result in a tax-rate hike of 4.54 percent, to $17.41 per $1,000 of property valuation.

Of the tax commitment, 53 percent would go toward school expenses, 38 percent the town and 9 percent to the county, according to information provided by the town.

The assessing line item is down 39 percent, to about $100,000, due to the elimination of a vacant position, Town Manager Rich Roedner said last week.

Planning is down 7 percent, to about $221,000, since the town does not plan to fill a vacant planning director position until September. With Roedner, the former town planner, recently named town manager, assistant planner Rod Melanson has been filling the gap in the Planning Department.

“We are somewhat fortunate in that at this point we’ve got a town manager who is earning less than the previous town manager, we’ll have a planning director who will be earning less than the previous town planner, and come July we’ll have a town clerk who’s earning less than the previous town clerk,” Roedner said, referring to retiring Town Clerk Ruth Lyons.

Public utilities is up 12 percent, to about $330,000, due to increases in water, electricity and sewer costs.

The Board of Selectmen on Thursday, April 10, was expected to approve the budget for the May 14 Town Meeting, where residents will make the final decision.

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.