FARMINGTON — Selectmen voted Monday to set the tax rate at $19.28 per $1,000 of property valuation. It is a 48-cent increase over last year.

The board also voted to put $125,000 in the downtown tax-increment financing account and to have an overlay of $25,000. The latter would pay for approved abatements and help the town while awaiting tax payments.

Without factoring in the $15,000 Homestead Exemption, taxes on a $100,000 home would be $1,928, about $48 more than last year. The Homestead Exemption was $10,000 last year.

With the exemption this year, taxes on a $100,000 home that qualified for the exemption would be $1,638.80 compared to $1,692 last year, according to Town Manager Richard Davis. 

The tax rate increase is shifted to the non-homestead properties, including businesses and second homes, he said.

The total Homestead Exemptions in the town amount to nearly $7 million. The state will reimburse the town half of it, according to John O’Donnell from the town’s assessing company, John E. O’Donnell and Associates.

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The town’s total valuation base is $453.5 million compared to $460.6 million last year, according to O’Donnell’s figures.

Other contributing factors to the higher rate include 10 more properties going into the Maine Tree Growth tax program and a couple more properties becoming tax exempt, including the town’s new Church Street parking lot, O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell’s initial recommendation was to set the tax rate at $19.28 and have a layover of $49,163. That was based on putting $100,000 in the downtown TIF account.

Among the town’s appropriations is $527,436 for its share of Franklin County taxes, an increase of $28,600 from last year; $5.42 million for the town, an increase of $82,147; and $4.67 million for Regional School Unit 9, an increase of $112,855.

The town is on a financial calendar year from Jan. 1 to December 31 while the school district is on a July 1 to June 30 year. So the town’s share of the district’s taxes overlap into two years.

There was an increase of $158,152.50 in the RSU 9 assessment from January 1 to to June 30, 2016 followed by a decrease of $45,297.17 from July 1 to December 31, Davis said.  The net effect is an increase of $112,855.33.

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Davis said that if $100,000 is put into the downtown TIF account, that would leave only about $28,000 for other projects after paying for the parking lot project. The town bought a Church Street property last year near the Franklin County Courthouse, which included an apartment building, for $79,000 using downtown TIF reserve funds. The town had the property razed and had a parking lot built.

There is $93,000 in the TIF account and after paying the bills for the project, the account would have a deficit of $72,000, Davis said. The total cost of the parking lot project is roughly $165,435, he said.

If the board set the tax rate at $19.28, and funded the TIF at $125,000 and had an overlay of $25,000, it would leave about $50,000 in the TIF account to work on a list of projects or to take a year off, he said.

The board accepted Davis’ proposal.

In other action involving the parking lot project, the board voted to accept Tree Line Landscape of Farmington’s proposal of $4,230 for plantings at the lot and associated costs such as compost, mulch and labor. The plantings include 30 perennials, ornamental grass and four Japanese lilac trees.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, at the parking lot.

NOTE: The article was modified since it was initially published to add clarifying information.

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