September 9, 2013

Gardiner only RSU 11 town to avoid schools-based tax hike

By Paul Koenig pkoenig@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Residents in most Regional School Unit 11 municipalities will likely see slight increases on their tax bill this year, partly as the result of reductions in state funding for towns and schools.

BY THE NUMBERS

Residents in most Regional School Unit 11 municipalities will likely see slight increases on their tax bill this year, partly as the result of reductions in state funding for towns and schools. The city of Gardiner kept its taxes flat, but the towns of Randolph, Pittston and West Gardiner all raised the rates charged to property owners.

Tax rate increases

Gardiner: No change

Pittston: 1.93%

Randolph: 2.7%

West Gardiner: 1.87%

The city of Gardiner kept its taxes flat, but the towns of Randolph, Pittston and West Gardiner all raised the rates charged to property owners.

Randolph residents, with a due date of Thursday for the first installment, will be the first to owe a tax bill. Gardiner and West Gardiner have due dates in October.

Gardiner's tax bills will go out this week and will be due Oct. 15. West Gardiner already sent out its bills, but interest won't accrue until after Oct. 1.

The first installment in Pittston, which had to hold a special town meeting in June to restore funds cut by residents four months earlier, will be due in early December, according to Jane Hubert, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen.

The board is expected to vote on the new tax rate on Wednesday.

"We didn't like the idea of having to do it," Hubert said of the higher rate, "but to meet our budget and bills, we had to find it somewhere."

Gardiner's tax rate remained at $19.90 per $1,000 of assessed value. The other towns increased taxes slightly: Randolph went from $15.58 per $1,000 of assessed value to $16, West Gardiner increased it rate from $10.70 per $1,000 of assessed value to $10.90 and Pittston will likely increase its rate from $12.95 per $1,000 of assessed value to $13.20.

For a property assessed at $100,000, that equates to tax bill increases of $42 in Randolph, $20 in West Gardiner and $25 in Pittston.

Part of the reason for the increases was changes to the state valuation in each town that caused a larger portion of the RSU 11 budget to come from Randolph and West Gardiner.

The local assessments fell by 0.1 percent in Gardiner and rose in the other three towns — 1.6 percent in Pittston, 8.7 percent in Randolph and 7.7 percent in West Gardiner. The portion of the RSU 11 budget funded by local taxes also rose by 3.4 percent from last year.

Cuts to municipal revenue sharing from the state also shifted more of the burden of providing services to towns and cities. The two-year state budget approved in June cut municipal revenue sharing funds — a portion of the state's sales and income tax revenues given back to municipalities — by about a third, $75 million statewide over the next two years.

Gardiner, the largest of the four communities in the school district, lost about $200,000.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
pkoenig@mainetoday.com

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