Caribou council lowers mill rate

6 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou City councilors set the 2018 mill rate to 23.7 during a June 25 meeting, a slight reduction from last year’s rate of 23.9 per $1,000 of evaluated property. 

City Manager Dennis Marker told the council that, while the 2018 mill rate was initially set to remain at 23.9 with a $51,000 overlay, an approximate $250,000 reduction in municipal expenses was not calculated into that initial projection. As a result, Marker said this gives council some “options to look at.”

“If we kept the mill rate the same,” he said, “the overlay would be roughly $150,000 and we wouldn’t have to tap into the city’s fund balance, or ‘rainy day fund.’ If you want to look at reducing the mill rate, last year we had about an $80,000 overlay, so if you want to stay consistent we could reduce the mill rate to 0.237.”

Councilor Mark Goughan, who served as chairman in the absence of both Mayor David Martin and Deputy Mayor Nicole Cote, asked Marker if they could vote to set the rate at the next meeting.  

“Charter tells us we need to do it by the end of June,” Marker said.

Councilor Phil McDonough suggested bringing the mill rate down to 23.7, which would allow the city to maintain the same $80,000 overlay as last year. “I think our intent is to keep our mill rate as low as possible,” he said.

Councilor Hugh Kirkpatrick asked if it was possible to go lower than 23.7. Marker said it could be done, but it would require tapping into the overlay. If the rate were reduced to 23.6, he calculated, the $80,000 overlay would be reduced to $40,000.

If the mill rate went from 23.9 to 23.6, Marker said, the difference in taxes would be $30 on a $100,000 home. The amount changes by “$10 each time you go down” a tenth, he noted.

Councilor Tim Guerrette agreed with setting a slightly lower mill rate, as long as the city has enough money to repair the River Road.

Marker indicated the the general fund includes roughly $2 million that could be used to assist in fixing the damaged roadway.

“We’re still waiting on some numbers,” Marker said, “but from our initial investigation we have enough to cover it.”

Guerrette said he was fine with the suggested 23.7, “as long as we don’t have to raise it by five mills to play catch-up [next year],” he added.

Councilors then voted to lower the 2018 mill rate to 23.7, to set the due date to July 16, and to charge an interest rate of 8 percent on taxes not collected after Sept. 28.