2014-08-22 / Community

Town’s tax rate to decrease slightly

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Town Manager Barry Tibbetts announced last Tuesday that the town’s mil rate for the 2014-2015 fiscal year will decrease.

“I think what you’re going to see from the analysis and what we’re recommending is probably the first time this has happened in the 16 years that I’ve been manager — we’re actually recommending that the mil rate can go down,” Tibbetts told the board of selectmen at the Aug. 12 meeting.

The board voted unanimously to set the mil rate at $14.90, with an overlay of nearly $515,000.

The new mil rate is a nickel less than last year’s mil rate, which was $14.95.

Dan Robinson, tax assessor for Kennebunk, told the board there are a handful of factors contributing to the decrease.

“The one thing we addressed is the valuation issue,” Robinson said. “The economy is starting to pick up, there’s been quite a bit of new construction, there’s also quite a bit of added value from the power line improvements that went through the western parts of town — that was a big, big part of it,” Robinson said in reference to more than 5 miles of new 354 kV transmission line improvements that extends from the Arundel town line to the Maguire Road substation.

The construction began in 2012 and is still in progress.

In terms of how the tax decrease would affect property valuation, Robinson said, “If you look at a $250,000 house, it’s about a $12.50 reduction” in the total annual tax bill.

Selectman Dick Morin proposed that the board challenge the town to use the decrease as a jumping off point and curb a rise in the mil rate in subsequent years.

“Let me lay out a challenge,” Morin said. “We can start now; we’ve made a grand step forward.”

Robinson made it clear that a flat tax rate likely could not be controlled next year. “We have had an exceedingly excessive year in terms of our valuation growth, which is the big offset. I want to be clear that I am not guaranteeing that for next year.”

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