BENTON — Selectmen approved the biggest property tax rate increase in more than five years Tuesday morning.

The tax rate will increase 12 percent, from $11.50 per $1,000 of assessed value to $12.90. The increase represents a $140 increase for the owner of a $100,000 home currently paying $1,150 in property taxes.

An increased assessment from the Fairfield-based Regional School Unit 49 accounts for the bulk of the increase, said the town’s tax assessor and treasurer, Rick Lawrence.

The town’s share of the school budget increased 11.8 percent, from $1,352,870 to $1,512,786.

The local share of county taxes increased 3.7 percent, from $152,174 to $157,779.

Meanwhile, the town budget has stayed relatively flat, with an increase of 1.2 percent, or $6,354, to $531,058.

“We’re shaving things as closely as we can,” Lawrence said. He also cited declining state revenue as a cause of the tax increase.

The effect on local taxpayers was blunted somewhat by a $100,000 appropriation from surplus accounts, approved at Town Meeting.

This is the first tax increase the town has seen in two years. The tax rate was $11.00 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2008 and 2009, and $11.50 in 2010 and 2011.

“Last year we used all the revenue sharing we had saved up to hold the tax rate,” Lawrence said.

Tax bills will be mailed out in several days, said Patrick Turlo, of the Town Office, and will be due September 30.

This year, for the first time, the tax commitments will be available on the town website before the notices are mailed out.

Turlo said he expects to have the information posted today at bentonmaine.info.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287

[email protected]

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