MOUNT DESERT — Residents here soon could celebrate lower taxes.
That’s because if the budget approved by selectmen this week stands, property taxes could decrease by 4 percent for fiscal year 1998.
Mount Desert’s proposed budget reflects a decrease in county taxes and costs for the elementary school.
The town’s municipal costs and required contribution to Mount Desert Island High School would each increase, but only slightly.
On Monday, selectmen forwarded the proposal to the warrant committee for review and recommendations. Residents will have a chance to vote on it at their town meeting on Tuesday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m. at the Mount Desert Elementary School.
According to Town Manager John Brushwein, if the budget is approved as proposed, Mount Desert’s tax rate would decrease from the current $8.55 per $1,000 property valuation to $8.21 per $1,000 valuation, or about 3.9 percent. For taxpayers with property assessed at $100,000, that translates into roughly $34 less in taxes in 1998.
The proposed rate could increase slightly, Brushwein said Wednesday, when the town’s overlay is calculated. The overlay is an amount legally assessed by the town to offset losses from uncollected taxes and successful tax appeals. This year’s overlay was $22,000, Brushwein said.
The proposed budget would increase municipal expenses by 2.16 percent. Municipal costs include administrative personnel, fire and police protection, maintenance and sewer services and the code enforcement, compliance and assessing departments.
The municipal budget includes an additional $26,800 for anticipated increases in fire hydrant rental rates in Northeast Harbor, $10,000 for the Otter Creek playground, $5,900 for the Neighborhood House and $11,000 to be used toward the purchase of a new police cruiser if necessary.
Wages for several town employees would increase slighty under the proposal. The town manager’s salary would increase 6 percent above this year. Wages for the town administrative officer and deputy administrative officer, police chief, police sergeant and dispatchers would each increase 3 percent.
The proposed budget for Mount Desert Elementary School reflects a 5.8 percent drop from fiscal year 1997. Brushwein noted that last year’s budget included some costly onetime-only expenses, like a final payment on a building loan.
Mount Desert’s contribution to the MDI regional high school is expected to increase less than 1 percent in 1998, but will nonetheless remain significant. As proposed, the town will pay almost $970,000 to use the school, a figure based on Mount Desert’s average property valuation for the last three years and the number of students it sends to the school.
Finally, preliminary estimates indicate that Mount Desert residents will pay less in county taxes in 1998. According to Brushwein, the town will pay Hancock County roughly $279,000 in taxes, approximately 4 percent less than this year. The figure will not be definite until the state’s valuation of Mount Desert’s property is completed later this month.