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Fort Fairfield Property Tax Rate Reduced by 1 Mil


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, September 26, 2018


   At their September meeting, the Fort Fairfield town council considered a property tax rate reduction of 1 mil.   The recommendation for decrease will support the Fiscal Year 18-19 budget that the town council approved on June 20, 2018.  The decrease is supported in part by the reduction in the school's budget, some increased revenue and department heads coming in under budget. 

   The new mil rate will be 24.7 mils with a due date of February 1, 2019.  Past due date will be March 1, 2019 with interest rate of 8 percent.

   Town councilman, Mitch Butler expressed some concern at cutting the mil rate, considering some of the big projects facing the town.  “I understand we have problems with a back up generator and sidewalk repairs,” said Butler.  “If we left the mil rate the same couldn't we use that for sidewalks and maybe a generator?”

   Town manager, Jim Risner assured him there would be money available.  After all accounts are settled under the current budget, there is expected to be a $242,211 surplus.

   “The capital reserves were woefully inadequate three years ago, staff and council has been able to increase those.  I think with the surplus that we have, there is some money. [The sidewalks are] a project that Mr. Hanson has been talking with Maine DOT about, redoing the sidewalks, costing the town twenty percent.  Part of that surplus I'll ask council to put into a reserve account so when Maine DOT does those we have the money with a 20 percent match.”

   As for the generator, Mr. Risner plans to bring in a consultant to make sure the town gets the right size generator.  “We have money in undesignated funds for that, I didn't want to put any of this reserve money in it because I don't know exactly what it is, but I know it plays a critical factor.”

   “At the end of the day the bottom line is I think over the last two or three years we've been able to put money against reserves, build our reserves.  We're very fortunate we're able to build this time,” said Risner.  “Not everybody agrees with me, but I think we have an opportunity to give back a little bit to the citizens.  We've had to raise the mil rate at least once since I've been here.  Having been on a council, lowering a mil rate is a dangerous thing because it's a lot easier to go down than it is to come up.  Baring some huge catastrophe I think a one mil decrease is very conservative and still allows us to build our reserves.

   Town councilman Jason Barnes expressed his appreciation to those involved in helping reduce the town's budget.  “I'd like to compliment the staff and the department heads for being frugal and their efforts to find efforts for these projects here and there, it all adds up and helps.  I appreciate it.”

   The town council unanimously approved the property tax rate reduction to 24.7 mils.