KENNEBUNK — Property taxpayers here are looking at a projected 55-cent increase in the tax rate for the fiscal year that begins July 1 if they approve municipal budget articles on the warrant and validate the RSU 21 budget in voting July 14.

Currently, Kennebunk’s mil rate, or rate per $1,000 worth of property, is $13.75. If all articles pass, Finance Director Joel Downs projects the tax rate will be $14.30 for the coming year.

The projection, however, he said, could change. Offsets to the town’s projected mil rate would come from any new construction added to the valuation base.

“My number of $14.30 is based on the taxable valuation … as of April 1, 2019,” said Downs. He said assessor Dan Robinson is still compiling figures, and so the final tax rate won’t be set until the Aug. 11 select board meeting.

The municipal portion of the tax rate is projected to be up by 18 cents, the town’s RSU 21 contribution, up by 35 cents, and the contribution to York County government, by 2 cents.

About 74 percent of the projected tax allocation is the town’s contribution to education at RSU 21, 22.4 percent is municipal, and county,  3.6 percent, according to Downs.

In all, $9.86 million of Kennebunk’s $16.24 million gross operating, capital expanse and TIF budgets for the coming fiscal year would be raised through municipal property taxes. The amount of money to be raised by taxes is up by about $486,000 from the current year.

The select board and budget board worked out a spending plan in February but as the coronavirus approached, conducted a review. And while the 5.18 percent budget percentage increase didn’t change, some of the details did.

Changes include a staff proposal to eliminate a part-time position in the Community Development Office; reduce part-time and overtime hours in all divisions, reduce lifeguard staffing, reduce recreation expenses due to a reduction in programs, and reduce budgeted spending in training, supplies, general expenses, fuel expenses, repairs and maintenance throughout all departments and divisions, according to Downs. Four positions at Kennebunk Fire and Rescue that are now filled by per diem staff will remain that way and will not be converted to full-time positions, saving benefits costs.

Voters will act on questions  that would see the town bond money for a variety of municipal items and projects.

Question C asks voters if they wish to bond $1.3 million for road paving, sidewalks and drainage repair or replacement to Factory Pasture Lane and Cat Mousam Road and related improvements; acquisition and equipping of an ambulance, two police vehicles, and a pavement roller and trailer; acquisition and installation of a traffic light/signal preemption control system; acquisition and installation of LED lighting at town hall and fire department’s Central Station; and the purchase, acquisition and installation of approximately 800 LED street lights throughout the town.

Question D asks voters of they wish to bond $426,000 for a sidewalk on Sea Road from Summer Street to Sea Road School, and from Sea Road School to Riverbend Drive, and related improvements.

Question E asks voters if they wish to bond $1.47 million for road paving, sidewalks and drainage repair or replacement to Water Street and the intersection of Garden and Storer streets; acquisition and equipping of a fire engine and a front loader; road paving, sidewalks and drainage repair or replacement in Lower Village, from the intersection of Port Road and Western Avenue, and along Western Avenue toward Boothby Road.

Candidates for select board, incumbent William Ward and Peter Brewitt, who most recently served on the budget board, are unopposed in their bids for office. Similarly, RSU 21 candidates Arthur LeBlanc and Dawn Therrien are unopposed, as is sewer district trustee Robert Emmons and Kennebunk Light and Power District candidate Beverly Freudenreich.

Voters will be asked if they wish to amend the current zoning ordinance to allow testing of adult use marijuana within the Business Park Zone, located at the southern end of York Street (Route 1). Passage of the zoning ordinance amendment would allow facilities like longtime Kennebunk business Nelson Analytical Labs, which already tests medical marijuana, to test adult use (recreational) marijuana. The vote was postponed from earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Voters will also be asked if they wish to sell a portion of the property they purchased last fall at 15 Portland Road — the house and some surrounding land, to bring in revenue. Voters last fall  authorized the $825,000 purchase of the 5.1 acres for future space needs. Select board members agreed the 1820s house is not needed.

As to the RSU 21  validation vote, the RSU 21 board approved a budget that was about $750,000 less than originally contemplated, and about 140 voters approved the district’s proposed $51.57 million overall budget on June 16. Kennebunk is responsible for $28 million of the total, up from $27.1 million this year.

There are some new positions in the district budget, including a full-time nurse leader, and a full-time human resources worker. Two education technician positions have been converted to teaching positions — one each at Sea Road School and Kennebunk Elementary School. There will be a new part-time social worker at KES, a part-time bus driver, and two part-time instructional strategists, one at Middle School of the Kennebunks, and another at Kennebunk High School. A new quarter-time clerk position in the business officer has also been budgeted.

Polls will be open on Election Day, July 14, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Town hall will open for absentee voting 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. Town Clerk Merton Brown reminded residents of the hours at the June 22 select board meeting. Voters can take absentee ballots home if they wish, he said, and could also call town hall at 604-1326 and ask for ballots to be mailed to them. He told select board members that in a usual year the office might get 300 to 400 requests for absentee ballots and as of that night, already had 1,800 requests.

Absentee ballots must be returned to the town clerk’s office  by the close of polls at 8 p.m., July 14.

A public hearing on June 22 produced few questions, except for an inquiry about whether rifles and tasers called for in the police portion of the municipal budget were new purchases. Town Manager Michael Pardue said the rifles were replacements, the tasers would be new.

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