KINGFIELD — Administrative Assistant Leanna Targett advised selectmen Monday night that if the preliminary spending plan for 2020-21 is approved, the tax rate could jump $2.

“I’m scared as hell going into this budget season,” she said.

She went through the plan line by line, noting there’s a request for a new truck and other items that would have to be paid by property taxes, not tax increment financing money.

The current tax rate is $18.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That is a $2 increase from 2018-19.

Targett said TIF money from the Poland Spring Water Co. agreement in 2007 can be used for specific purposes that support economic development, but not the town’s share of the SAD 58 budget.

Selectman Ray Meldrum expressed frustration with the public misconception that when taxes go up, selectmen are to blame.

“We selectmen don’t set the tax rate,” Meldrum said. “Voters do that at the town meeting.”

Targett asked SAD 58 Director Kim Robinson to explain some of the items the town’s share pays for.

Robinson estimated the town subsidizes up to $200,000 to educate 20 or more children who attend Kingfield Elementary School but live in other districts.

A superintendents’ agreement allows children from New Portland, New Vineyard and other areas to attend one of the three elementary schools or the high school. Two superintendents can approve the transfer of a student from one district to another if the superintendents agree the transfer is in the student’s best interest, and if the student’s parent approves, she said.

Under the arrangement, no tuition is exchanged among school systems. Instead, the transferred student is considered a resident of the receiving school district for purposes of calculating state subsidy, she said.

The town pays more than it receives in state subsidy for those additional students, according to Robinson.

Targett said selectmen have asked superintendents why the town is required to accept out-of-district students, and the answers have been less that satisfactory.

“I don’t remember we’ve gotten concrete answers,” Targett said.

In other business, selectmen agreed to reduce Webster Hall rental charges, based on past requests from older residents and nonprofit groups. Seniors groups will pay $5 per hour instead of $10, and seniors can use the hall at no cost for their monthly lunches.

The board also reviewed an invitation from Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis to attend the March 17 meeting of the Franklin County commissioners.


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