Slight increase ahead for Rumford property tax rate
RUMFORD — The 2017-18 property tax rate is going up 85 cents to $28.85 per $1,000 of assessed value. It rose from $27.45 to $28 per $1,000 in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
A factor in determining the rate is the fund balance policy of the town, which is to maintain a minimum balance of two months, or 16.66 percent of operating costs. The targeted balance is three months, or 25 percent.
The fund balance had dropped to 15.1 percent in 2014. It inched up to 15.7 percent in 2015 and 16.39 percent last year.
Selectman Peter Chase made a motion Thursday night for a rate of $28.91, seconded by board Chairman Chris Brennick. That would have increased the fund balance to the two-month balance at 16.66 percent.
Selectmen Mark Belanger and Jim Windover voted against and it died on a 2-2 vote. Board member Jim Theriault was absent.
Belanger then made a motion for the $28.85, seconded by Chase. It passed unanimously, and will give the town a little less than a two-month cushion at 16.50 percent.
Laurinaitis said taxes on a property valued at $80,000 would increase by $52 without the Homestead Exemption and would decrease by $105.56 with the exemption.
Windover said the town should start to look at decreasing the tax rate. “We have some pretty good budgets here because we have a lot of services. As a selectman, I think we should look at the level of service that we have.”
He added that if the tax rate gets too high, businesses such as the Catalyst paper mill could decide to shut their doors.
Chase said the “hierarchy of Catalyst paper” met last week at the mill.
“I’m not going to be the guy of gloom and doom,” he said. “I feel relatively good about that (meeting) and hopefully we’ll be able to hold on to our mill for at least the near future.”
In another action, selectmen approved a recommendation first made by Tax Collector Tom Bourret at the Sept. 7 board meeting for semiannual due dates of Oct. 17 and April 2, with 7 percent interest on taxes to begin the day following those dates.
Bourret said the tax bills will be sent out either by Sept. 22 or on Sept. 25.