Van Buren approves slightly lower mill rate

9 months ago

VAN BUREN, Maine — Property taxes will see a slight reduction this year, as council last night approved a mill rate of 20.5 — a 0.25 reduction from last year’s mill rate of 20.75. 

The cut comes during a time when Van Buren has been continuously revitalizing and improving itself, with recent achievements ranging from a National Endowment for the Arts grant to improve their downtown aesthetic to the delivery of 3 EV charging stations, a new farmers market and summer festival.

For a median-valued home in Van Buren worth $130,500, the new mill rate would bring annual property taxes down from $2,707.88 to $2,675.25 — a $32.63 reduction. 

Town Assessor Devin Parent recommended the quarter of a mill reduction during an assessor’s meeting that occurred before the town council’s regular meeting.

“It puts us in a good spot and leaves us with a nice overlay,” he said.

Town Manager Luke Dyer said that if they instead decided to increase the mill rate by a quarter, the overlay would be around $74,000, which is far more than the town would need.

Town overlay accounts are used to pay for property tax abatements and exemptions.

Dyer said some factors helping this year’s mill rate are state revenue sharing and changes to the town’s tax increment financing districts.

He also commended Parent for reaching out to local farmers about Business Equipment Tax Exemption reimbursements, which he said significantly helped the town’s finances this year.

“That’s how we were able to increase our operating budget and decrease our mill rate,” Dyer said. “Because those things that should have been captured all along were actually captured.”

Councilor Peter Madore asked Dyer if he would be comfortable with a lower mill rate and overlay, considering the new developments and projects taking place in Van Buren. Dyer said the town has a healthy surplus and that if the town goes over its overlay limit for tax abatements, then the remainder would fall back to the town’s surplus. 

Madore thanked Dyer and Parent for their hard work revitalizing the community while keeping taxes down.

“We have done a lot of improvements in the past year, and our mill rate is coming down,” Madore said. “So kudos to our town manager and Devin; it can be done. And we’re just hitting the tip of the iceberg.”