June 16, 2019

Bar Harbor budget requires tax increase

BAR HARBOR — The budget for 1992 approved by the Bar Harbor Town Council Tuesday evening will mean a 2.3 percent increase in taxes for local residents.

According to Town Manager Dana Reed, the budget that will now be considered by the town’s warrant committee includes the debt service on a $2.1 million school addition project slated to begin this summer.

Taxpayers who own a $100,000 home should see their taxes increase by almost $26 for the year if the proposed budget is approved as written at the annual town meeting in late spring.

A public hearing on the budget Tuesday evening drew only a handful of residents none of whom voiced an opinion on the budget or proposed tax increase.

One of the largest increases in the municipal side of the budget is an additional $465,000 slated for capital improvement projects, an increase of about 152 percent.

In explaining the growth in that part of the budget, Reed noted recently that capital improvements had been cut for the past three years in an effort to bring down tax increases. Reed said 1993 seems an appropriate year to replenish the fund rather than having parts of the infrastructure, such as roads, continue to deteriorate.

The town manager said the small increase in the tax rate was due to several developments, including the $150,000 drop in the town’s high school assessment and stability in the cost of solid-waste disposal. That change will mean that a $70,000 solid-waste contingenecy account can be eliminated. About $82,000 in leftover funds from 1992 will be placed in a solid-waste reserve account.

Total expenses, he added, will increase in 1993 by 2.1 percent. The tax rate, said Reed, would have dropped by half of 1 percent if voters had not approved the school addition and renovation project.

The budget for the elementary school shows a decrease of two-tenths of 1 percent for next year.

A minor change was made to the budget at Tuesday evening’s public hearing when the appropriation for the Bar Harbor Band was increased from $5,000 to $7,000.

A motion by Chairman Jill Goldthwait to reduce the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s appropriation by $1,000 and add that amount to the band was defeated. The chamber is scheduled to receive $12,500 from the town this year, the same amount as last year.

Reed said the tax rate increase is lower than the national cost of living increase. In his budget introduction, Reed said that Bar Harbor is faring better than other Maine towns during a period of economic hardship.

“The simple truth is that things in Bar Harbor just don’t reflect the economic conditions elsewhere in the state and nation,” he wrote.

Noting that the town’s merchants had a good summer and are expecting a promising one this year, Reed pointed to the increase in building permits and increased bookings at local campgrounds and motels.

Reed said the uncertainty about the future of the state’s revenue sharing program could lead to budget cuts “when and if the Legislature decides what it is going to do.”

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