LISBON — Taxpayers could be facing an estimated 1.2% tax rate increase if the Town Council approves the $9.4 million municipal spending plan the town manager proposed last week.

The $9.4 million proposal by Town Manager Diane Barnes is a 2%, or just under $182,000, increase.

Barnes said if school and county taxes and property values were to stay flat, the tax rate of $23.10 per $1,000 of assessed value would increase to $23.38. That would increase property taxes for a home valued at $200,000 by $56, to $4,676.

She hopes to make some additional budget cuts but as of last week there were four major factors driving the increase. Workers’ compensation costs are going up just under $19,000 and building expenses are up $50,000 because the fire station needs a new roof. The stipend for Lisbon Emergency services is increasing $50,000 and hydrant rental costs are going up $74,000.

“So all my increases are right there that I really can’t control,” she said.

Fuel prices dropped significantly, which will drop the Police Ddepartment’s fuel budget by about $10,000 and more for the public works department, Barnes said.

The town’s share of the Androscoggin County budget is projected to increase $45,913, which would raise the tax rate an estimated 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, which is an additional $14 for a home valued at $200,000.

The most recent proposed Lisbon School Department budget would increase the tax rate by 95 cents per $1,000, which is an additional $190 for a home valued at $200,000. Combined, Lisbon’s tax rate could increase by 5.6% or $260 for a home valued at $200,000.

The projected revenue-sharing from the state is increasing more than $400,000, she told councilors last week, “So that’s going to wipe out any of my increase and we’ll still have more money on the side to offset the tax rate on the municipal side.”

Fearing the state could face an economic recession after the coronavirus health crisis and the associated costs, Council Chairman Allen Ward urged caution.

“I am of the mindset that we are very fortunate that we are in a budget position that is not as bad as it’s been in previous years for consideration and Diane has done some good work here and situationally putting it together,” he said during a council meeting. “I am of the mindset, no new programs or increases on this budget because again we need to be clear on what we’re looking at if the financial forecast for the coming year is not what we’ve had for the last two or three.”

The town announced Wednesday that all council and budget workshop meetings in April have been canceled. The next municipal budget workshop is tentatively scheduled for May 5 at 6 p.m. Lisbon’s municipal and school budgets and the county budget aren’t scheduled for final adoption until June.

Barnes said Wednesday that it’s too early to project the impact of the coronavirus on the town’s budget.

“We will be keeping expenses related to COVID-19 separate from other expenses,” she said in an email.


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