PITTSFIELD, Maine - Major financial decisions are on this week’s agenda for the Pittsfield Town Council, including paying a hefty county tax bill that could jump the mill rate by 11 percent.
“This is outrageous, especially during a year when fuel and gas costs are so high,” Town Manager Kathryn Ruth told councilors in a pre-meeting memo. “We have it within our means to soften this blow.”
To avoid the 11 percent increase, Ruth is suggesting taking $200,000 from savings. The tax bill is so large because of the new $30 million jail construction and a change in the county’ s fiscal year that resulted in an 18-month debt, rather than a 12-month bill.
Ruth reported that the town’ s revenue collections were excellent in 2007 and the unappropriated surplus totaled $1.2 million.
Ruth said the county tax bill for 2007-2008 is $576,573. The tax due for the half-2008 year is $151,490. Both bills are due on or before Nov. 1 or interest will be charged, Ruth said.
Ruth said that the county has offered a payment plan for the additional half-payment but “we do not have the details at this time.” She said that since the bill has been assessed, it must be paid. “We are unsure how the payment plan works until we see the actual two tax bills for wording,” she said.
Without taking the surplus amount, Ruth said, the tax rate would increase from $21.80 per $1,000 valuation to $24.20. By using surplus, the mill rate would increase to $23, a 5.5 percent increase. On a $100,000 property, the increase could be $120.
Ruth said that if the entire amount is taken from surplus, the mill rate would increase by even more next year.
Councilors also are being asked to finance more than $200,000 in sewer repairs and replacement through borrowing.
Councilors also will approve paying the $2.09 million bill to SAD 53 in monthly disbursements of around $174,672 each.
The sewer repairs are necessary to address an older, failing sewer system, Ruth said. “In one location, a triangular section of sewer pipe is stuck out of the ground,” she told councilors at their last meeting.
Bids on a wide range of projects would be due in August. These projects include a section of sewer line on Main Street that is not in the town’ s right of way and runs through private property. The line has had significant problems, Ruth said.
There is a section of West Street by Greeley and Highland streets that has caused problems, as well as Hamilton Cross Country, which also runs through several private properties. Ruth said easements have been obtained to complete the repairs and replacements.
The financing would be completed through bond purchases, Ruth said, and would be paid back through sewer fees.
Other items on the agenda for the meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 29, include:
Accepting a bid for renovations at the Pittsfield Public Library, which will be partially funded through a $150,000 Community Development Block Grant. The low bidder was Nickerson & O’ Day of Brewer at $163,850.
Transferring $50,183 from the sale of tax-acquired property, formerly belonging to Thomas and Daphne Wright, to reimburse the Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund for a 1990s default.