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Fort’s 2016-17 Mil Rate Holds


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, September 28, 2016


   The town of Fort Fairfield will have no mil rate increase this year to support the FY 2016-17 budget and will keep the interest rate on overdue taxes at 7% after March 1.  The Fort Fairfield town council voted to approve maintaining the town's mil rate at 24.50 at their September, 21 meeting.   “We need a minimum mil rate of 24.19, our current mil rate is 24.50,” said Fort Fairfield town manager, Jim Risner.  “Maintaining the town mil rate at 24.50 gives us an overlay, or buffer of $49,321.  That money is just that, it's a buffer.  I do not include that in the 2016-17 budget.  If the numbers are right, that much will show as a surplus next year.”

   Town councilman, John Herold noted the 7% interest rate on outstanding taxes due and suggested it could be brought more in line with the average for loans statewide by suggesting it be reduced to around 4%.  “Do we make a bunch of money on that 7% rate?  Probably not,” said Herold.  “Does 7% make it more difficult for a taxpayer to pay his taxes and additional penalties?  Probably.”  After asking his fellow councilors if they would care to reduce it to around 4% he was met with some resistance.  “I'd prefer it stay at the higher rate,” said councilman, Jason Barnes, “as an incentive.” 

“Well, it's an incentive but at a certain point it becomes an obstacle,” said Herold. 

   “I would note it is a penalty,” said Risner.  “The town has a tax club, the town tax collector does work with individuals, so it is a penalty for those individuals who basically don't want to pay.  My experience in the little over a year that I've been here is the tax collector will talk to anybody who's having a challenge paying taxes and try to figure out a way to get them to pay taxes without having to go to a penalty or foreclosure.  The bottom line is the town has a greater probability of losing money if we do that.  It's a burden on the citizen and it's a burden on staff to do the additional paperwork.”

   For those who participate in the town's tax club, all interest after March 1 is waived as long as current taxes are paid by the end of June.