READFIELD — Property taxes are expected to decrease — for the municipal budget — in the town’s next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

At a public budget hearing Thursday, Readfield town officials laid out their budget for next fiscal year. According to that presentation, the town spending plan will ask property taxpayers for $928,983, a decrease of $36,339 — or 3.76 percent — from the current fiscal year’s $965,322.

While the municipal portion of the budget is projecting a tax decrease, Readfield property taxpayers still could face an overall tax increase, depending on the Regional School Unit 38 and Kennebec County budgets, which have not been approved yet.

The current tax rate in Readfield is $19.44 per $1,000 of assessed property value. For property assessed at $150,000, the property owner would pay $2,916 in tax, without exemptions taken into account.

The budget’s biggest cost drivers are planned capital improvements, including repairs to Readfield Community Library and expansion of the Readfield Fire Station.

According to Town Manager Eric Dyer, work at the library could include a new or rebuilt roof, heat pumps, floor and ceiling reinforcement and comestic work; $100,000 has been budgeted for the work. He said the fire station could expand by about 3,000 square feet, providing a new bay for equipment that’s stored outside now. The extra space also would include room for additional meeting and training space, a warming center, a full kitchen, basic quarters for emergency personnel, a place to wash gear, a shower and a bathroom.

Constructed in 1978, the fire station has not undergone any major improvements, according to Readfield Fire Chief Lee Mank. The total cost of the expansion is budgeted for $710,000.

The library repairs and the fire station expansion would be paid for primarily through a $550,000 bond, which would be repaid over a 15-year period.

The town is in a good financial condition to undertake the projects, said Marc Roy, director of financial reporting for Berry Talbot Royer, at a March 18 Select Board meeting.

“The town has the economic resources in order to undertake projects they might be considering,” he told selectmen at the meeting, during which he presented an audit report.

And road work costs shouldn’t be an issue for paying for the capital projects. Peter Davis, a member of the town’s Budget and Road committees, said at Thursday’s public hearing that town roads are excellent.

“The last time talks of improvement to the Fire Department came up, we were doing major road construction,” he said. “Now is a good time to bond the (Fire) Department.”

Town residents will vote on budget June 11 by secret ballot, not at an open Town Meeting. The next budget meeting will take place May 16, at which a warrant with around 40 articles will be presented to residents.

“That’ll be an opportunity for residents to speak their opinions as to whether articles should be passed,” said Bruce Bourgoine, chairman of Readfield’s Select Board.

 

Abigail Austin — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @AbigailAustinKJ

 

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