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Thursday, February 26, 2015 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 140 Issue 09

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11/7/2013 2:12:00 PM
Waldoboro Selectmen Choose Lower Taxes Now
By Dominik Lobkowicz

The day after the town's budget was solidified, the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen set the mil rate at $13.60 per $1000 valuation, choosing to ease the burden on taxpayers now over providing a financial cushion against unforeseen events.

Waldoboro saw increases to the municipal budget and the town's share of the RSU 40 and county budgets this year, and is anticipating a net decrease to revenues.

Taking those changes into account, the selectmen would have had to set a mil rate of nearly $13.86 per $1000 to maintain the same overlay ($267,528) as fiscal year 2012-2013.

The overlay, used in the case of tax abatements or as a cushion against lost revenue, also has been and is being used to help build up the town's undesignated fund balance, according to Waldoboro Town Manager John Spear.

According to background documentation for the selectmen's meeting, Spear said the town's strategy to rebuild its undesignated fund balance to the $1 million range is well ahead of schedule, and while a $13.60 per $1000 rate would keep the plan on track, it would provide "little or no cushion."

In the documentation, Spear recommended the mil rate at $13.80 per $1000 in valuation, including an overlay of $236,878.28.

"Three years is a long time, and a lot of unforeseen events can transpire," Spear wrote.

"Myself, I like the first one, the [$13.60]," said Selectman Carl Cunningham at the meeting. "If we do have some emergencies, maybe we'll have to cut back somewhere."

Spear recommended the selectmen set the rate at a minimum of $13.70 per $1000. "I think we're cutting it too close with the $13.60," he said.

Spear said several factors have helped the town get ahead of its goal of rebuilding the balance, but he is concerned about the future of state revenue sharing.

"I don't know if we're all out of the woods," Spear said. "My understanding is Augusta has got quite a taste for it," he said of the cuts towns already faced this year.

Selectman Vice Chair Ronald Miller said he was concerned about the less fortunate in the town, and the difference between the $13.60 rate and the $13.80 rate on a $200,000 property (a $40 difference in taxes) could be the fine line between not eating or going without heating oil for some people.

Selectman Ted Wooster moved to set the rate at $13.70 per $1000, and the motion did not receive a second. Cunningham moved for $13.60, and was seconded by Miller.

Speaking in favor of approving the lower mil rate, Cunningham said a lot of the older folks in town will go without food or heat to make sure their taxes are paid on time, "which I think is great, but it is hard on them."

The selectmen voted 3 to 1 to set the rate at $13.60 per $1000 valuation, Wooster dissenting.

In other business, Spear said Waldoboro is still looking for applicants to fill the town's two vacant spots on the RSU 40 board of directors until the annual municipal election next June.

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