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Mars Hill town budget to avoid tax increase

MARS HILL, Maine — The town of Mars Hill is on track to pass its next municipal budget without any tax increases.  

“As it stands, the proposed budget does not require any additional tax dollars over this year’s budget,” said Town Manager Dave Cyr.

The Mars Hill budget committee approved the budget Monday night and town councilors are expected to ratify it later in January so that it can take effect on Feb. 1, Cyr said.

The $1.36 million municipal budget is approximately $65,000 higher than last year’s but comes with an additional $188,000 of revenue over last year.

The bulk of that revenue increase, about $164,000, stems from the town’s payout from the sale of the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company. Mars Hill was a charter member of the solid waste organization but now has a contract with Pine Tree Waste for trash disposal.

The rest of the revenue increase is due to reimbursements through the state’s business equipment tax exemption program, representing property tax exemptions for all of the business equipment in the town, much of which is from the Pineland Farms potato processing facility.

The town’s budget does include a number of increases, including for administration, public works, public safety, roadways, and capital reserves, according to Cyr. Hikes in the administration and public works accounts are from a two percent increase in salaries and associated increases for insurance and Maine state retirement contributions.

The roadway budget increases stem from a $10,000 increase for sand and salt, Cyr said. The early snow storms in late 2018 took a toll on the 2018-2019 winter’s supplies, and “salt is getting more expensive,” he said.

The town also is boosting its capital reserves with $123,200 in this budget, bringing the capital reserves to $484,700 and paving the way for future investments in several projects, the town manager said.

“Our capital expenditure plan is our savings account for future purchases. We’ll always have the need for equipment,” Cyr said.

The town has been setting aside capital for roof work at the town office and community center, as well a new fire truck that will be needed in the coming years, Cyr said. Roof work on the town office could start this year, while the other projects will likely be in years to come, he said.

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