Mars Hill council raises tax rate by a hair

4 years ago

MARS HILL, Maine — The Mars Hill Town Council set its 2019 tax rate on Tuesday evening, raising the property tax rate by 1.4 percent to offer the town a budgetary cushion. 

The Mars Hill Council voted to increase the municipal tax rate from $17.25 per $1,000 of property value to $17.50, a 1.4 percent increase. 

The slight tax rate hike will mean an increase of $25 to the tax bill for a property valued at $100,000, Cyr said. Taxes are due by Jan. 17, 2020, after which an interest rate of 9 percent is assessed. 

For the last two years, Mars Hill’s municipal tax rate has stayed at $17.25 per $1,000 of property value. That rate would have worked with this year’s budget, but “I’d be more comfortable with 17.5,” town manager David Cyr told the council. 

The additional 0.25 mill offers the town’s budget an overlay of about $40,000 for contingencies, such as keeping roads clear during an extended winter. 

“Whatever difference we have, we’ll carry into next year’s budget,” Cyr said. 

Mars Hill’s 2019 municipal budget totals $1.36 million, about $65,000 higher than last year, but with an additional $188,000 of revenue. The bulk of that revenue increase is from a payout from the sale of the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. Mars Hill was a charter member of the solid waste organization but now has a contract with Pine Tree Waste for trash disposal.

Mars Hill and the neighboring town of Blaine will continue discussions this summer about the fate of their shared community center. Town officials hope to bring voters from both towns a referendum item this year on the center, which could involve renovations, an addition or a demolition and replacement. 

Mars Hill is also in the second year of a two-year, $5 million road work project where the Maine Department of Transportation is replacing half-century-old drainage systems along Route 1. 

Mars Hill’s annual town report is now available at the town office and is dedicated to the legacy of Clara Hussey, a long-time resident and community leader who died last year at the age of 99. 

Born into the Towle family in Fort Fairfield, Hussey helped found the Mars Hill Recreation Committee that was instrumental in the success of Big Rock Mountain. She also organized and spent many years teaching at what is now Big Rock’s Ski For Life program, which offers ski lessons to hundreds of kids each winter.