April 07, 2020

Proposed Bar Harbor budget calls for slight tax increase> Elementary school would cost more, high school less

BAR HARBOR — Town residents face a relatively slight increase in property taxes next year if the town’s proposed budget for FY 1999 is approved in its current form.

As proposed, Bar Harbor’s budget for next year reflects a 4.8 percent increase over this year in general fund expenses, and a 5.5 percent increase in the elementary school budget. More than $1,000,000 would be raised for capital improvement projects.

If approved in its current state, next year’s budget would decrease Bar Harbor’s contribution to Mount Desert Island High School. County taxes would increase slightly.

Bar Harbor councilors are reviewing the proposal and are likely to give tentative approval to it at their Feb. 3 meeting. It then would be forwarded to the warrant committee for further review. A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 17. Bar Harbor residents will have the opportunity to vote on the proposal at town meeting May 5.

According to Town Manager Dana Reed, under the proposed budget, Bar Harbor’s tax rate would increase from the current $13.75 per $1,000 property valuation to $13.98, or about 1.7 percent. For residents with property assessed at $100,000, that translates into roughly $23 more in taxes in 1999. Taxpayers with property assessed at $150,000 would pay an additional $34.

Reed notes the proposed tax increase is under the 2.1 percent goal officials set for next year. The relatively small increase in property taxes would be possible because of an upturn in several revenue accounts.

The 1999 FY proposal calls for an increase to the town’s “general fund” expenses of 4.8 percent. General fund costs include town management, police and fire protection, and the departments of planning, public works, and parks and recreation.

Included for next year is a $14,000 request to increase the town’s assistant clerk position from part-time to full-time, and a $15,000 request from the finance department for maintenance contracts for its computer system and previously approved salary raises.

Town employees would receive a 2.5 percent cost of living increase.

The 1999 budget also proposes raising $1,048,000 for the town’s Capital Improvement Program. Slated projects include replacing the finance department’s computer system, purchasing land near the municipal office for a town parking lot, replacing fire department vehicles, and fixing damage to the town pier. Major renovations are also scheduled next year for improving the village green and town parking lot.

The budget for Conners-Emerson Elementary School next year is proposed to increase 5.5 percent over this year, according to Reed. School officials have requested funds to implement a summer school program for students not progressing in math, reading and writing, to add an after-school learning lab, to replace science equipment, and to hire a part-time speech and language clinician.

The 1999 contribution to Mount Desert Island’s regional high school is expected to decrease by roughly 2 percent next year, a savings of $25,700. The town’s contribution will still remain significant, close to $1,080,000 or 11 percent of the town’s overall budget.

Finally, preliminary estimates indicate that Bar Harbor residents will pay slightly more — around 2 percent — in county taxes next year.

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