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9/19/2013 3:43:00 PM
Calendar Change Behind Somerville's Mil Rate Increase
By Dominik Lobkowicz

Somerville's new mil rate of $22.50 per $1000 valuation appears to be up significantly over last year, but the increase is mostly due to an 18-month budget period to get the town on a July to June fiscal year, according to Selectman Chair Susan Greer.

"What that is, is $15 [per $1000] for a 12-month period and then $7.5 [per $1000] for the six-month period," Greer said.

The mil rate for calendar year 2012, which was also the town's last fiscal year, was $14.75 per $1000, Greer said.

The net amount to be raised by taxes in the 18-month period is $1,125,295, on a town valuation of $49,588,250, Greer said.

For the 18-month period, the municipal budget was approved at $595,280, or $381,859 for calendar year 2013 compared to $395,307 in 2012; $663,290 is due to Sheepscot Valley RSU 12 for education, or $450,406 for calendar year 2013 compared to $402,723 in 2012, Greer said.

The change in the amount due to RSU 12 is partially as a result of an increased overall budget, an increase to all of the district's eight towns' share of the budget, and due to a change in cost-sharing within the district's towns.

The reduction in the municipal budget was due to some increased costs last year due to the move into the new town office, as well as underspending of other lines, Greer said.

"We actually underspent our budget last year, so we took some of those areas that we saved and we just readjusted the figures," she said.

Somerville's county tax is up from $58,486 last year to $61,555, but reflects only one payment because, after the annual payment this October, the next would not be due until next fall, Greer said.

Offsetting the amount of taxes needed to be raised are $44,430 in state revenue sharing, an anticipated $102,900 in excise taxes, the use of $10,000 from the town's general fund, and $37,500 in state road assistance, Greer said.

Tax bills are scheduled to be mailed on Sept. 23, Greer said.

In addition to the calendar change, Somerville residents will now their tax bills in two payments instead of one.

The first payment, due by Dec. 31, will receive a 2 percent discount if paid before Oct. 31, and the second payment, due June 30, will receive a 2 percent discount if paid before April 30, Greer said.

"It was agreed at the town meeting that this was a responsible way to go forward managing the town's finances, and certainly our treasurer and our tax collector and the selectmen are more than willing to talk to any of our taxpayers about their bills when they get them," Greer said.

A letter explaining how the one-time 18-month process works will accompany the tax bills.

"Hopefully that will help answer some of their questions," she said.

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