York County Commissioners Justin Chenette, Donna Ring, Richard Dutremble, Robert Andrews and Richard Clark heard revenue forecasts and discussed other aspects of the upcoming budget talks at a recent meeting. Courtesy photo

ALFRED — The amount of revenue flowing into the York County Registry of Deeds as a result of the transfer tax is trending up a bit but fees the registry receives were off 13 to 14 percent at the end of 2023, York County Manager Greg Zinser told York County Commissioners at a recent meeting.

Zinser said the upcoming fiscal year 2025 budget, which goes into effect July 1, is in development, and will be ready for commissioners’ review in April. Following their perusal and a vote, it is then passed to the York County Budget Committee.

The transfer tax, as outlined in Maine law, is assessed on real estate sales. Under the statute, each county registry of deeds collects the tax, and sends 90 percent to the state, with the county retaining 10 percent. In all, York County typically receives $1 million annually as its share, Zinser estimated.

“We’re seeing higher (property) values, they’re holding pretty strong,” he said, hence the solid transfer tax footing. The picture was a bit different in deeds recording fees, which were off by about $200,000 to $300,000, signaling a downturn in the number of sales.

That is borne out by information released by the Maine Association of Realtors, which tracks sales of existing single family homes. In York County, 2,073 homes were sold from Jan 1 through Dec. 31. 2023, down 22.18 percent from the 2,664 homes sold during the same period in 2022. The median sales price, however, was up by 5.56 percent – the median was $475,000 in 2023, up from $450,000 in 2022, the MAR said in a news release. Statewide, sales dipped by 19.07 percent in 2023 from the prior year; the statewide median sale price was up 7.46 percent.

THE MAR does not track sales of other housing units, or commercial and industrial property sales.


“Hopefully with spring coming, we’ll see a bit of a rebound,” said Zinser.

The 2024 fiscal year budget was $23.4 million, with about $3.7 million raised through revenue and $19.7 million through taxes to the municipalities. About $1.5 million was projected to be raised through deeds recording fees in the current fiscal year, and $1 million in transfer tax.

Zinser noted the upcoming budget would include 1.5 full time equivalents — commissioners approved hiring of three new employees in fiscal year 2024 — one in facilities and two in finance, and so needs to budget the remaining six month of those salaries.

Commissioner Richard Clark asked about additional hiring.

Zinser said Human Resources is very busy, particularly with corrections staffing applications and recruiting, and currently has a part-time vacancy that could potentially be full time, utilizing existing jail funding. He said he is eyeing adding a third Information Technology staffer, pointing out there are just two employees handling the technology needs of a 250-employee organization. As well, he told commissioners there is a thought that the county might reduce a position in deeds and turn it into an archivist position. He said he would have more information once he had spoken to all of the county government’s department heads.

Commissioner Robert Andrews asked about the status of $125,000 the budget committee had added to the 2024 spending plan to help address homelessness in the county.


Zinser said there appears to be no consensus among municipal managers as to how the money would best be utilized.

He said some towns seems happy to make their own plans, others are looking for blankets and sleeping bags and still others say supplying those items only serves to allow outside living to continue.

“Their hearts are in the right place, and there is a desire to be compassionate,” said Zinser, but each community seems to have a different approach, he noted. “The issues are very legitimate,” he said, suggesting the commission keep the $125,000 in the budget going forward and discuss what might be the best avenue.

He pointed out there is one emergency shelter in the county, at York County Shelter Programs in Alfred, though there are a few warming centers and suggested commissioners might consider aiding those entities.

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