Freeport Town Council at Tuesday’s meeting. Screengrab

Freeport is weighing a roughly $32.2 million budget that would result in an estimated 4.34% property tax increase for fiscal year 2021-2022.

Factoring in the municipal, school, county and transit budgets, the total proposed increase in the amount raised from taxes sits at roughly $1.1 million.

This represents a tax increase of about 56 cents per $1,000 of property value, bringing Freeport’s tax rate to $14.56 per $1,000 of property value. This translates to a $4,368 tax bill for a $300,000 home, a $168 increase over 2021.

For comparison, in 2021, Bath’s property tax rate is $20 per $1,000, Brunswick’s is $20.37 per $1,000 and in Pownal it is $18 per $1,000.

According to a letter co-authored by Freeport Town Manager Peter Joseph and Finance Director Jessica Maloy, the town is proposing about a 13 cent increase, RSU 5 is proposing about a 40 cent increase and the Cumberland County tax, which is finalized, includes a two-cent increase.

On the municipal side, the total proposed budget is roughly $500,000 more than the 2021 budget, putting the total town budget just under $11 million.

For taxpayers, this translates to a $274,144 or 5.16% increase from 2021. According to the letter, the major drivers on the municipal side are salaries and benefits as well as cell tower rental, ambulance billing and tipping fees.

“While the past few budget years have been difficult, this year was no exception,” Joseph and Maloy wrote. “Certainly, these figures are subject to change based upon the next two and-a-half months.”

Freeport belongs to Regional School Unit 5, which also serves Pownal and Durham.

The 2022 proposed total operating budget for RSU 5, which was adopted by the school board in late March, sits at $35.7 million. Of this, Freeport taxpayers would be responsible for around $19.9 million, which represents a 4.16% tax total increase over 2021.

According to Superintendent Becky Foley, the major drivers for RSU 5’s budget include salary and benefit increases, a substantial increase in the career and technical education budget, the establishment of a reserve account to replace the tennis courts and an additional tech position and bus driver/custodian.

Freeport’s transit tax, which is for the metro bus system, is essentially flat from fiscal year 2021 and is projected to be $82,939.

Going forward, a public hearing regarding the school budget is set for May 26. Participation in the meeting will be available both in-person at Freeport High School and remotely via Zoom.

Freeport department heads will host two Q&A sessions for the public to discuss the municipal budget on May 11, one from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and another from 5 to 6 p.m.

The Freeport Town Council has also set a public hearing on June 1 to discuss the budget in the regular meeting, with a target adoption date for June 15.

The RSU 5 budget referendum is scheduled for June 8.

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