The property tax rate increase in Westbrook won’t be as much as residents feared.

The Westbrook City Council passed a $64.4 million budget in May. The property tax rate was supposed to go from $18.40 per $1,000 of assessed value to $19.34. That would have been an increase of more than 5 percent, or 94 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The annual tax bill for a home assessed at $190,000 would have gone up by $178.

It was going to be the most significant tax rate increase in Westbrook in eight years.

But City Administrator Jerre Bryant and Mayor Mike Sanphy announced Wednesday that unexpected revenues will bring the projected increase more in line with previous years.

The rate for fiscal year 2017-18 property taxes is now projected to be $19.02 per $1,000 – up 3.37 percent or 62 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. Last year, the tax rate increased by 44 cents; the year before, 76 cents. For a home assessed at $190,000, the tax bill will go up about $118.

Bryant attributed the change to multiple factors – higher-than-expected growth in the tax base, new revenue from the Homestead Property Tax Exemption and the Business Equipment Tax Exemption, and a net increase in state education funding.

In particular, the city’s tax base grew by $15.5 million, or 50 percent more than the growth projection in the original budget. Bryant cited new housing developments – including the controversial Blue Spruce Farm project – as the reason for that increase.

“While this 3.37 percent increase in the property tax rate is still higher than we would like to see, the economic growth for the City of Westbrook and increased support for education funding from the State of Maine has enabled us to bring it down from the projected 5.1 percent,” Bryant said in a news release.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Twitter: megan_e_doyle

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