2015-09-11 / Front Page

Arundel tax rate up 3.1 percent

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — After three years without an increase, Arundel residents can expect a 3.1 percent hike in property taxes this year.

At its Aug. 24 meeting, the board of selectmen approved a mil rate for the current fiscal year of $14.95 per $1,000 of assessed value. That’s up 45 cents from the old tax rate of $14.50.

According to Town Manager Keith Trefethen, the new rate will result in a tax increase of $90 on a median, single family home in town, assessed at $200,000, which would result in a new property tax bill of $2,990.

The new mil rate was the lowest option presented by Town Assessor Beth Newcombe. As such, it will provide the town with an overlay of just $3,644. An overlay is the amount a municipality is allowed to collect in taxes above what is required to cover its annual budget.

Newcombe had provided selectmen with mil rate options ranging up to $15.68, which would have given the town a $300,758 overlay.

“I think it is important to provide the least amount of change to the taxpayer you can provide, all the while providing the municipality the necessary resources to operate effectively,” Trefethen wrote in a memo to selectmen, recommending the lowest of Newcombe’s options.

“Oftentimes overlay is misunderstood, as many feel that the funds are used for any abatement that may need to be applied during the current fiscal year, where overlay is really utilized to round out your rate for tax purposes,” Trefethen wrote.

Factoring into the tax rate needed to fund Arundel’s $7.63 million operating budget — which includes $3.1 million for municipal services, $4.3 million as the town’s share of Regional School Unit 21 and $231,926 in taxes to support York County government — is the new townwide valuation.

According to Newcombe, Arundel is now valued by the state at $408 million, an increase of $2.54 million over the previous year, with the biggest hike — $1.88 million — coming from new construction and updated assessments driven by property sales. Combined, all buildings in Arundel are now valued at $278.8 million.

However, the town actually lost $106,400 in land value over the past year, dropping to $114.6 million.

“How can we have less value in land?” Selectman Velma Jones Hayes asked at the board’s Aug. 24 meeting, striking an incredulous note.

According to Trefethen, the difference comes from “a couple of subdivisions” that were withdrawn during the year, meaning what had been multiple building lots had been recombined into a single taxable lot.

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