BUCKSPORT – Town councilors Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a $16.3 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The spending plan includes the school budget of $11,274,325 and the municipal budget of $5,207,221.
At Tuesday’s meeting, councilors held the line on funding agency requests, agreeing to fund most agencies only up to last year’s levels. The exceptions were Down East Transportation, which had requested a $2,500 increase reflecting the increased costs of the new in-town shuttle bus service, and the senior citizens’ center that requested $1,000 in order to help cover the cost of janitorial services.
Councilors also approved a $947,000 appropriation for the fourth year of the town’s five-year capital improvement plan. The largest expenditure in the plan, $690,000, is the renovation of the Jewett School building, which already has been approved by voters. The plan also calls for a $55,790 expenditure in town funds toward the construction of a new creative playground. The total cost of the project is estimated at $65,000.
If the budget receives final approval, the total amount to be raised from taxes will be $8,515,815, an increase of $180,318. Of that amount, the school budget accounts for $5,881,696, an increase of $131,116 or 2.7 percent. The municipal budget accounts for $2,634,119 in local taxes, an increase of $49,202 or 2.2 percent.
Town Manager Roger Raymond said the council plans to offset the increased tax demand by drawing down the budget overlay to cover the $180,318 increase.
“That would mean that there will be no increase in taxes from this budget, and there will still be between $60,000 and $80,000 in overlay,” Raymond said.
Most property owners will see an increase in their tax bill based on the results of the recent revaluation of residential properties which have increased on average by about 6 percent, Raymond said.
New construction valuations will allow the town to decrease its mill rate from $16.9 per $1,000 of valuation to $16.7, Raymond said. But with the increased values on existing properties, residential property owners will see an average increase in their tax bill of about 3 percent, he said.
Because residential properties are increasing in value rapidly, commercial properties were not included in the recent revaluation. Commercial and industrial properties that have not increased in value will benefit from the decrease in the mill rate.