FREEPORT – The proposed 2013 budget for Regional School Unit 5 would result in a sharp increase in taxes for residents of Durham and Pownal, according to a presentation to school board members Tuesday night by Superintendent Shannon Welsh at Freeport High School.

If approved by voters of the tri-town area through a budget validation referendum June 11, Durham would see its property tax rate increase by 7.81 percent, and Pownal’s would rise by 6.20 percent. Meanwhile in Freeport, the largest town in the district, residents would experience a comparatively modest increase of 1.69 percent.

According to RSU 5 Finance Director Kelly Wentworth, who was on hand to explain the 11 articles in the budget after an overview by Welsh, the impact to taxpayers of the two smaller towns is the result of valuation changes at the state level.

“Unfortunately one thing we can’t control is the state valuation – it’s the biggest factor in how much money needs to be raised by each town to fund the budget,” said Wentworth.

Freeport’s state valuation decreased this year for the first time in the four-year history of the school district, leaving Durham and Pownal to make up the difference, said Wentworth.

Based on April 1, 2012 town taxable valuations and and property tax rates used by the state, the assessment impact without changes this year would have been 3.51 percent for Durham, 2.92 percent for Freeport, and 3.48 percent for Pownal.

The overall recommended budget for 2013-2014 is $25,632,994, a 2.58 percent increase from this year.


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