Durham passes 6.6 percent tax cut

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DURHAM – Just over 100 voters took only three hours and 55 minutes Saturday to complete action on an 80-article warrant.

Approved was a $5,383,143 school budget, which, after revenues, will result in $2,313,143 in local tax dollars, and a $1,716,709 municipal budget, which will result in $731,320 in local taxation. Added to these amounts will be a $294,678 county tax bill and $138,000 for overlay.

Budget Committee Chairman Allan Purinton estimated a projected tax rate of $18.20 per $1,000 valuation, down from last year’s $19.50, a 6.6 percent reduction.

Voters followed all Budget Committee recommendations, refusing to spend $3,000 for a utility building for the town office and about $2,000 in the school transportation account.

The longest debate, 17 minutes, came on a citizen-petitioned barking-dog ordinance, which then failed. Also coming under close scrutiny, but approved, was a request to transfer $10,000 from the capital improvement fund to rehabilitate the historic bandstand at Southwest Bend. Some questioned if it was enough money.

By a state-mandated secret ballot, residents voted 81-21 to increase the state property tax levy limit of $315,578.38, established for Durham by state law in the event that the municipal budget results in a tax commitment greater than the property tax levy limit.

In the only other secret ballot, people voted 49-43 to accept Smith Farm Road as a town way, despite objections, some relating to a difficult turnaround.

Among articles approved: $10,000 for a town office expansion study; winter roads, $396,269; paved roads, $253,213; unpaved roads $71,894; Fire and Rescue, $202,665; Fire and Rescue capital improvement, $25,750; second lease payment on new tanker truck, $25,711; fire station payment, $40,736.

Also, officers’ salaries, $170,777; solid waste disposal and recycling, $131,609; general assistance, $5,000. People voted to establish a new elementary school reserve fund, not to exceed $300,000 for preliminary architectural services and other initial costs for a proposed new elementary school.

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