SIDNEY — The town will charge property owners roughly $168,000 less for municipal services than it did last year, but those savings are likely to be offset by increased county and school assessments, selectmen told voters Saturday morning during the annual Town Meeting.

The savings in the virtually flat budget of $1.4 million were made possible by a combination of factors, outgoing Selectman Brent Dugal told voters during his last official meeting as a board member.

“We’ve had some savings in spending throughout the year that we were able to roll into surplus,” he said. In addition, he said, excise tax collections have risen and reserve funds are being tapped to arrive at the $168,000 reduction.

He warned that residents shouldn’t expect that the property tax rate, now $10.65 per $1,000 in assessed value, will decrease.

In addition to the town’s operating budget, local property taxes also support the county and Regional School Unit 18.

“Depending on what happens with the school and the county, it’s our anticipation that most, if not all, of that 168,000 (dollars) will end up going to one of those two,” Dugal said.

He said preliminary figures show that even if the school district maintained a flat budget, it would need an additional $1.5 million from local taxpayers in Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney because of decreased state and federal funding.

Last year, the town sent out tax bills before the school’s budget process was completed.

As a result, it collected about $88,000 more for the school district than was needed, Dugal said. That money will be applied to offset the school’s assessment this year.

During the meeting, which lasted about three hours, the 90 voters in attendance made a few slight adjustments to the warrant presented by town leaders.

Voters lowered the interest rate for people who pay taxes to the town and then receive an abatement for overpayment, plus interest. The current rate, approved by the town last year, is 4.75 percent.

John George, a Budget Committee member, suggested lowering it, calling 4.75 percent too much in the current economy.

“You can’t get anywhere near that rate of money at any bank,” he said.

The new rate will be 3 percent.

Voters also changed the manner in which a new rescue vehicle will be funded. Rather than borrow $75,000 and take $10,000 from a reserve account, as the warrant article had been presented, voters instead decided to borrow $65,000 and take $20,000 from the reserve account, which a rescue department representative said would “pretty much wipe out” the fund.

Voters decided to raise $2,762 to support continued repairs at the Grange hall, as requested by the Sidney Historical Society. The Budget Committee supported that expenditure, but the Board of Selectmen opposed it.

Repairs will include replacing some drywall, fixing a floor drain and installing a door and a pump under the sink.

Kelly Couture was re-elected to the board, while Laura Parker was elected to fill the seat left vacant by Brent Dugal, whose term expired.

Erika Russell and Brent Dugal were elected to the Budget Committee, while Tim Russell and Roger Bedard were elected as alternates.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
[email protected]

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