City sets mil rate at 20.8
Belfast — City councilors voted to set the mil rate at 20.8 during a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Prior to voting to set this year's mil rate, City Manager Joseph Slocum told councilors he estimated the city's mil rate would increase to a minimum of 20.7 per $1,000 of value and up to a maximum of 21.7 per $1,000 of value if voters approved the proposed $33.4 million Regional School Unit 20 budget.
The city's mil rate was previously set at 19.80.
A person with property valued at $100,000 would pay $2,080 this year versus $1,980 the previous year.
The 20.8 mil rate represents an overlay of $85,442.21. Slocum told councilors Belfast's total valuation increased from $702,912,870 last year to $720,517,378 this year.
Slocum explained to councilors that by law, towns and cities can add up to 5 percent to the total taxes to be raised as an “overlay.” The overlay provides funds the municipalities can use to correct abatements in taxes due to incorrect valuation or other reasons, such as a poverty abatement.
He said the the minimum mil rate of 20.7 was based on a zero percent overlay.
The maximum mil rate of 21.7 was based on a 5 percent overlay, Slocum said.
Slocum said the overlay is also useful because unanticipated expenses can come up during the course of the year that weren't budgeted for, but must be funded.
"It's a very hard tax year," Slocum said. "We all — the county, the city and the school — have to find a way to deliver services in the least expensive way possible."
Based on the proposed RSU 20 budget, the city will have to pay $867,627 more to the district, which represents an increase of 10.46 percent in taxes for the city. A breakdown by Slocum of how tax dollars are spent in Belfast shows that in 2013, about 10 cents of every dollar went to the county, 60 cents went to the schools and 30 cents went to the city.
The breakdown for 2014 shows that the county would receive about 9.5 cents per tax dollar, the city would receive about 28.9 cents and the schools would receive 61.6 cents.
Regardless of whether the budget passed or failed, Slocum said the city would send out a tax bill based on the $33.4 million school budget. If a budget was eventually approved that was lower than what the city taxed for, the extra money would have been aside and used for next year's school tax bill.
However, if a budget was approved that was higher than the bill sent to taxpayers, Slocum said the city would have had to consider sending out a supplemental tax bill.
He anticipates tax bills will be sent out at the end of September and the first payment would be due by Oct. 31. Residents have the option to pay their tax bill in two installments with the second payment due on or before March 7, 2014.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at email@example.com.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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