January 22, 2013

LePage budget would raise Farmington property tax rate, officials say

Tax Assessor Mark Caldwell estimates rate would increase to $17.82 per $1,000 of assessed value from $16.60

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON -- Farmington selectmen voiced concern Tuesday that Gov. Paul LePage's proposed budget would tighten an already stretched town budget and lead to an increased tax rate.

Mark Caldwell, town tax assessor, estimated the proposed cuts would require the town to increase its property tax rate from $16.60 per $1,000 of assessed value to $17.82 per $1,000. For a home valued at $100,00, that would mean an increase of $112.

Town Manager Richard Davis said part of the governor's budget includes a two-year suspension of municipal revenue sharing. The proposal would save the state over $200 million, but municipalities face cutting services or increasing property taxes, he said.

If revenue sharing was suspended, Farmington would lose a total of $1.6 million in the next two years, according to the Maine Municipal Association. Davis said he estimated the town would lose around $1 million.

He said his estimate of the revenue loss was less than the association's estimate because in past years, the state has not given Farmington its promised allotment.

Davis said as the town tries to address budget problems, it needs to make sure the community does not end up both paying more in taxes and losing services.

If the proposed budget is passed, the town also could lose an unspecified amount of K-12 education funding, and $10,000 per year from tractor-trailer excise tax revenue, which would be redirected to the state, according to a report by Caldwell.

Selectman Ryan Morgan said he believes municipalities are being unfairly burdened with what should be a state-level problem. He said he believes the LePage administration should cut more at the state level, instead of revenue-sharing cuts.

"He's pulling our money to pay his bills," he said.

Morgan said he encourages the community to voice concerns they have to their state legislators and to Davis.

Davis said the town will be keeping the proposed cuts in mind when deciding the town budget, which will be voted on March 18.

Kaitlin Schroeder -- 861-9252


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