DIXFIELD — Selectmen set the property tax rate at $18 per $1,000 valuation Monday night, an increase of over 7 percent from the previous fiscal year of $16.75.
“It's a big jump. It's unfortunate,” Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky said.
A drop in revenues was one reason for the increase, but even more importantly, Skibitsky said the the most significant factor was a substantial increase in Oxford County and RSU 10 school taxes.
The town's share of school taxes went up by $180,000, a figure that Skibitsky said represented at least one mill.
He said the town will have fewer resources to keep property taxes down during the next fiscal year because the carryover funds from the merger of SAD 21 into RSU 10 are now used up.
The town received $230,000 as its share. The last $100,000 was applied against the current year's tax liability.
“I encourage everyone in RSU 10 to move along with consolidation of the district,” Selectman Malcolm Gill said. “We have three high schools that are costing us a lot of money. We're going into the fourth year and there's not a lot of savings. I see the district as one high school, a couple of middle schools and three or four elementary schools. The school population is decreasing.”
Gill retired as a teacher from the former SAD 21 last year.
Selectman Norine Clarke said she knew higher school taxes were coming when the three-district RSU 10 started equalizing pay for employees from all former districts.
Besides the Dixfield area, RSU 10 is composed of the former SAD 43 in Rumford/Mexico, and the former SAD 39 in Buckfield.
The first half of property taxes are due without penalty by Sept. 15. Payments made after that date will be subject to 7 percent annual interest. The second payment is due by April 15.