WELLS — Town Manager Jon Carter presented selectmen with an $18.28 million proposed town budget for fiscal year 2017, which starts on July 1, at the board’s Dec. 15 meeting.

Although Carter said many capital improvement projects are “trimmed” under the proposed budget, the amount dedicated to capital improvements is more than $1 million, or 28.7 percent higher than what was approved for the fiscal year 2016 budget.

The greatest increase in the proposed budget is in the warrant articles, which rose by 49.7 percent, from $1.33 million in the FY 2016 budget to $1.99 million in the proposed FY 2017 budget. Carter said this increase is because of two land purchases.

Although the total proposed budget is more than 10 percent higher than the $16.54 million town budget that was approved for FY 2016, the proposed amount to be raised by taxes is only 4.25 percent higher compared to the last budget, according to documents provided by the town. Assuming a half-percent increase in the town’s property valuation, this translates to an 18-cent increase in the mil rate, said Carter.

Other tax increases are expected once the county and school budgets are finalized. Carter said the town is projecting a 3 percent increase in the county budget and a 5 percent increase in the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District budget, although those figures are just predictions.

The proposed budget also comes in under the state’s property tax levy limit, said Carter. Last June, Wells voters shot down a question that would have allowed the town to increase the property tax levy limit, or LD1, for the FY 2016 budget.

Selectmen Chair Karl Ekstedt said the board has for a number of years been committed to “maintaining proficient levels of service” while also keeping a reasonable tax rate, and he expects that to continue to be the focus as the proposed budget is amended in the coming months.

“The town of Wells provides exceptional services for a very reasonable tax rate,” said Ekstedt. “Nobody likes to see (taxes) go up, but the cost of everything does over time, and I think this budget certainly will reflect that when it’s all said and done.”

­Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]

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