FAIRFIELD — Voters at the annual Town Meeting Monday approved a $900,000 borrowing package that, along with other budget articles approved by voters, will increase the tax rate by up to 48 cents.

Town Manager Josh Reny warned that tax hikes being considered to cover budgets for School Administrative District 49 and Somerset County could increase property taxes even more.

Voters passed a $5.47 million municipal budget that was more than $32,420 higher than last year’s and increases the town’s tax rate to $20.73 per $1,000 in valuation. It is the first tax increase driven by municipal expenses in five years.

The $900,000 bond package passed 38-27 in a secret ballot vote, Reny said Tuesday.

About $800,000 of the borrowing is intended to kick-start a multi-year program to pave and rebuild segments of nearly 20 roads in town.

The town has already approved a paving bid from Pike Industries for the project, but had to hold off moving forward with the work until voters passed the funding, Reny said.

“Now that it’s approved, we can green-light that project,” he said.

The projects outlined in the 2015 paving season include reclaiming a mile of Covell Road and half a mile of Adams Road, surface paving on another mile of Covell Road, and overlay paving on 1.5 miles of Ten Lots Road and 2 miles on Martins Stream Road.

The remainder of the amount borrowed is expected to go towards rebuilding the leaking slate roof on the Lawrence Public Library and other maintenance projects at the Fairfield Police Department. The borrowing will be used to match possible grant funding that can be used to pay for the roof fixes, Reny said. The goal is to complete the project this year, but Reny said it may take two years to get the project together.

Among items approved Monday night was $3,000 for the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter despite a recommended donation of $1,800.

Although the town budget as passed will mean a tax hike, school and county budgets could drive Fairfield’s property tax rates even higher, Reny warned.

The MSAD 49 school budget passed by voters at a budget meeting last week could mean another $1.60 tax rate increase in town, Reny said. Voters from the four MSAD 49 towns will go to the polls on May 19 to vote in a referendum on the $26 million school budget.

The Somerset County budget, which is projected to be close to $1 million more than last year, could also have an outsized impact on Fairfield because the town will likely have to increase property taxes to balance the loss of revenue from devalued paper mills in Skowhegan and Madison. The county budget has yet to be approved and the full impact to Fairfield isn’t clear, Reny said.

“We’re looking at a perfect storm here with increases from all three segments of local government,” he said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


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