BOWDOIN — Bowdoin voters approved a $1.1 million budget at their town meeting Saturday that isn’t expected to change the tax rate.

Currently, the town’s tax rate is $15.80 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $3,160 for a home valued at $200,000.

The municipal budget is $62,783 or 6% from the 2019 budget, according to Selectwoman Deb Marquis. While the overall town spending is increasing, the portion coming from taxes in 2020 is decreasing by 18% or $48,300.

The town still doesn’t know how much it will pay in taxes to Maine School Administrative District 75, which accounts for about 70% of the taxes raised through property taxes in Bowdoin. Assuming the school and county taxes remain flat and the assessed values and tax exemptions don’t change, assessor Clyde Cavender said the current tax rate should remain flat.

The 2021-22 budget for MSAD 75 is still in the works. If the school were to maintain the current level of programming and staffing, Bowdoin would be looking at only a 0.05% or $1,689 increase to $3,233,659 in local education taxes, according to Mark Conrad, the district’s business manager. He expects a very minimal impact on the town’s tax rate.

Conrad said last year Bowdoin’s taxes to MSAD 75 increased 10.7% driven in large part to debt service payments, high costs for special education services and the unanticipated addition of $600,000 for teacher salaries that voters added into the budget. This year, however, the school district will draw an additional $3.5 million in state funding which will help offset local property taxes. The 2021-22 school budget won’t be finalized until June.

Cavender noted that the state’s homestead exemption is rising from $20,000 to $26,000 which he expects will have a greater impact on the tax rate than the municipal budget. The homestead exemption is a property tax relief program that reduces the value of qualifying property for tax purposes.

Selectmen chair Marc Bernier said selectmen increased local spending but propose to use more excise tax revenue to help offset the increase.

The town is in the first year of new three-year plowing contracts which increased. Sand and salt costs are expected to increase as well, which is why selectmen increased the winter highway spending by $35,000 to $385,000. That money will come from the excise revenue account.

Spending for the town’s solid waste management program and recycling facility is increasing $6,000 to $26,000. Bernier said the town is paying more to Casella Waste Systems for its recyclable products because the market for recyclables has dwindled. That money will come from the excise revenue account as well.

Bernier said selectmen increased the spending for town expenses by $7,500 after the town spent more than the $62,500 it budgeted in 2019. The town had to pay to have trees cut and repairs made to the town office after a tree fell on the corner of the town office building and ripped off utility lines. The septic system also froze last winter and needed to be replaced.

“We went over on expenses and used all of the contingency,” Bernier said.

Selectmen also increased spending on town salaries by $9,000 to $165,000.

There were 94 voters at the town meeting Saturday.

Marc Bernier was reelected to the Board of Selectmen and Kim Totten was reelected to the MSAD 75 school board.

 

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