West Bath residents will vote on a proposed $2.37 million budget Tuesday that, if approved, is expected to keep the tax rate flat.

Spending is down about $33,400 less from last year, representing a 1.39% decrease in spending. If approved, the town’s current property tax rate of $10.50 per $1,000 of value is expected to stay flat, according to Town Administrator Kristine Poland. This means a home valued at $200,000 will maintain its current $2,100 property tax bill.

Though the budget dipped slightly, the newest expense in the budget is a $150,000 allocation for an upcoming revaluation. West Bath’s last revaluation was in 2006, according to town documents, well past the recommended 10 years.

Municipalities assess properties to determine their tax rate and distribute the tax burden among property owners. But values change over time, so municipalities periodically have to conduct re-evaluations, adjusting currently assessed values to the market rate.

In addition to the cost of the revaluation itself, the town is also asking for an additional $12,000 to pay for software and training necessary for the process and other administrative functions like tax collection and assessing, said Poland.

The town is also asking for about $13,200 to cover the code enforcement officer position switching from 28 hours per week to full-time.

While the town has a few budget increases, there was a $219,000 decrease in the road capital budget compared to last year’s spending. Poland said that money was allocated last year to pay for a culvert replacement on Sabino Road.

There’s also a $30,000 reduction in the budget for maintenance and repairs on town buildings. Poland said administrators aren’t adding funds to the capital account this year.

Residents will also vote on the proposed $3.96 million West Bath school budget. Spending for the school is up by $59,909, or 1.54%, mostly driven by a $55,761 increase in regular instruction tuition and a $51,597 rise in special education instruction.

Principal Emily Thompson told The Times Record in March those estimates are, in part, “based on who we have enrolled for next year,” as well as the rising cost of labor.

Those increases are offset by a $29,366 drop in regular instruction and a $16,000 decrease in special education tuition. The school board also used $266,847 in carryover funds balance to reduce the local contribution to $3,434,748.

The budget approval will go before residents in a referendum election on Tuesday, June 8. The vote, conducted by secret ballot, will take the place of the typical annual town meeting to limit gathering during the COVID-19, reducing the risk of spreading the virus. The polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the West Bath Fire Hall on State Road.

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