Yarmouth eyes 2% tax increase in new budget

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YARMOUTH — Property owners may see real estate taxes rise a shade over 2 percent next year, as the 2018 town budget continues to be shaped.

For an average home assessed at $320,000 with the proposed 2.1 percent tax increase, a homeowner would pay $111 more in taxes next year, according to Town Manager Nat Tupper. 

That would bring the property tax rate from $17.06 to $17.43 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

The proposed municipal budget is expected to increase 1.7 percent. Town councilors worked with Tupper at the board’s March 9 meeting to reach that point, trimming costs and spending.

“Keeping taxes flat as long as they can” remains the goal of town leaders, Tupper said. Over the last four budget seasons that’s been the case, with the approved budget rising seven-tenths of 1 percent over the four-year period.

The town’s current budget is $36 million. The budget proposed for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1, is expected to come in around $37.5 million or a bit less.

Even so, that figure could change along the way. How the outcome of the Maine Legislature’s work regarding revenue sharing will affect Yarmouth and other towns’ budgets remains to be seen. Budget figures could be adjusted before Yarmouth residents gather for the annual town meeting on June 6. Or, applied to subsequent years’ budgets if after June, said Tupper.

Finding a new use for the former Winslow Fire Station on Center Street factored into the council’s recent discussion. The building had been leased to the Firehouse Arts organization, which folded in December, Tupper said.

The Town Council has to decide whether nonprofit, for-profit, private or town use may be in the town’s best interests regarding the old fire station. 

Meanwhile, preparation for the town election on June 13 is underway. That’s also the date registered voters will vote up or down on the school budget.

Nomination papers will become available March 20 from the town clerk. Three seats are open on the town council, as Andrew Kittredge and Randall Bates have served two consecutive three-year terms and have “termed out,” said Tupper. Councilor Tamson Bickford Hamrock has indicated she will not seek re-election, he said. 

Several seats on the School Board may be open, along with one seat on the Water District Board. Nomination papers are due back to the town clerk by April 28. 

Lisa D. Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or lconnell@theforecaster.net. Follow Lisa on Twitter: @connell_ld.