STRONG – Lower state revenues and higher education costs have boosted the town’s tax rate for the coming year by 11.2 percent.

On Tuesday night, selectmen agreed that the tax rate increase from $10 to $11.20 per $1,000 of property valuation would provide a safety net in anticipation that state revenues would decrease, while municipal and school costss would not.

The town paid SAD 58 its final $49,000 monthly share in June, when the district’s fiscal year ended.

In July, Strong’s monthly share, explained assessors’ agent Robert Worthley, increased to $61,000 per month. That $144,000 annual increase will be even greater during the next school year, Worthley said, because the state subsidy of school costs is expected to decline.

Strong selectmen also have had to ask for an extra $33,000 to meet required state fire codes, including a sprinkler system and fire doors for the Forster Memorial Building that houses the library and town offices.

Selectmen decided the $10 tax rate would provide a very minimal cushion for unexpected financial demands.

The predicted steady decline of state revenue sharing could continue to increase the burden on the taxpayers, Worthley cautioned.

“Our revenue sharing dollars that we receive in one fiscal year are put in the town budget for our next fiscal year,” he said. “In 2009, we were allocated $92,967 in state revenue sharing to reduce taxes in 2010, but next year, unless things get a lot better, I’m guessing we’ll get around $75,000, and that’s if things go well at the state level.”

Worthley also suggested that the state’s changing schedule of revenue distributions doesn’t help the town plan its budget with great accuracy and confidence.

“The state will only reimburse 75 percent of the Homestead Exemption during this fiscal year. The rest we will receive in July 2011,” he said. “It is only about $5,000 that will be carried as a receivable at year-end, but the principle irks me.”

Kingfield’s real estate property valuation for 2009 increased by 30 percent in 2009, and that state-level change could help shift some of next year’s $725,000 tax burden to pay for school costs, Worthley noted.

Tax bills will be sent by the end of the month.


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