Yarmouth delays budget, bond referendums, Town Meeting

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YARMOUTH — Town Meeting and a school budget referendum are scheduled two weeks later than usual this year, as officials wait for the Legislature to reach consensus on policy and the state budget.

Residents will vote on next year’s $10.94 million municipal budget – an approximately $11,000 increase over the current year – at Town Meeting June 18. The fiscal 2009 municipal spending plan was $10.87 million.

Budgeted into revenues is $7.1 million in property taxes, $1.5 million in excise tax, $750,000 in state revenue sharing, $440,000 from fund balance, and $1.1 million in other line items. Town Manager Nat Tupper said last week that there is concern the state could reduce revenue sharing, as well as $40,000 in truck excise taxes.

The school budget is proposed to increase 3.12 percent, from $20.2 million to $20.8 million. Part of that hike includes a potential $262,000 local contribution toward teacher retirements proposed by Gov. Paul LePage. Without that payment, the budget increase would be 1.78 percent.

The school spending plan will have two votes, first at Town Meeting, and then at a budget validation referendum on June 25.

Also to be decided June 25 is a $1.5 million Merrill Memorial Library bond referendum for upgrades to make the 1905 structure more energy efficient and bring it into compliance with modern building safety codes.

According to yarmouthlibrary.org, the bond will be matched with $1 million from private fundraising and “will not increase the real estate taxes paid by the town’s residents and businesses. The payments will replace those currently being paid on an expiring bond.”

Tupper said the town intends to delay principal payments until other bond issues are retired, which would make room in the budget for library bond payments. As a result, taxes would neither go up nor down, he explained.

The total property tax, including municipal, school and county expenses, could increase 1.14 percent, from $26.2 million to $26.5 million. But with an expected reduction in the net tax base, due in part to the continually decreasing value of Wyman Station, the tax rate could increase 3 percent, from $21.20 per $1,000 of property valuation, to $21.84.

The amount the Wyman value will decrease is still unknown, so the town tax rate could change accordingly.

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