Board of Selectmen Town Meetings

RCL explanation of Nov 9, 2016 Tax Rate setting

RCL Tax Rate Table:  RCL TaxRateSet110916revC

1.  The 2016 tax rate is down $.22 from 2015 to $10.68.  More than the entire reduction is accounted for by a reduction of the School tax rate of $.26 (State and Local).
2.  The Town tax rate is up $.04 to $3.00 despite $1 million from prior year surpluses (a record since 2007) applied to keep the tax rate down.
3.  Town appropriations are up nearly $1 million over 2015 even though $525,000 in warrant articles did not pass.
    a.  After declining for several years as debt (sewer, Public Safety Building and Conservation) has matured, debt service is up $115,000 over 2015 due to $1.3 million drawdown for the acquisition of the back part of the former Rand Lumber property for conservation.   Of the $3 million conservation bond authorized in 2014, $1.7 million remains to be drawn down and has not yet affected the tax rate.
   b.  Warrant articles for new ambulance ($275,000), another dump truck ($175,000), funding of fire truck reserve ($100,000) and Library capital reserve funding ($60,000) were other major items that increased from 2015.
   c.  Appropriations would have been even higher except for two warrant articles that did not pass (acquisition of new Town Hall site  on Washington Rd., study of five options for Town Hall).
4.  In 2015, for the first time in many years, nearly $425,000 that could have been used to reduce taxes was retained by the Town.  In 2016, most of these funds were released, resulting in a misleading year-to-year comparison as the 2015 rate was artificially increased, and the 2016 rate artificially reduced.
5.  While the School tax rate has dropped from $6.73 to $6.57 from 2013 to 2016, the rate is projected to increase $.55 in 2017 according to the preliminary budget prepared by the SAU business manager despite maturing of school bond eliminating nearly $300,000 in debt service costs.  In addition, the town budget (general fund before warrant articles), as of November 10, was projected to increase 2.4 percent before any increase for Police, Fire and Public Works employees is included.  These increases will be separate warrant articles if a new collective bargaining agreement is reached in time.  Town warrant articles are still being discussed, but another major year for warrant articles appears likely.
6.  A major increase in taxes for 2017 is likely unless the budget and Town Meeting processes prevent it.