The Winslow Town Council amended the 2020-21 budget during a special meeting last week, citing a shortfall in budget projections.

The council increased the tax rate by 18 cents, then waived a second reading to expedite sending tax bills to residents in a timely fashion, according to an email obtained by the Morning Sentinel.

Councilors met last Tuesday to reopen the budget. It was originally approved in May with a tax rate of $18.64 per thousand dollars of valuation. The council voted to raise the rate after revenue projections fell short.

Had the council decided to make up the shortfall by only increasing taxes, the new rate would have been $19.20. Instead, the council opted to take $250,000 from surplus, thereby reducing the increase from 56 cents down to 18 cents.

In a three-page memo to the council, Winslow assessor Judy Mathiau described in detail the reasons behind the rate change. She stressed the importance of “demystifying” the difference between her tax rate and the projected tax rate by the Winslow Town Council.

The town’s cut of state revenue sharing declined from a projected $880,428 in March to $778,537 in August, a loss of $101,891.

The county tax assessment is $36,014 more than the budget prediction. The budget projections also did not include the TIF payment to taxpayer ($287,812) and overlay ($16,812), Mathiau wrote.

The town had to make up an additional loss in revenue from a decline in taxable property value due to the increased Homestead Exemption and use of the Business Equipment Tax Exemption (BETE).

According to the memo, Winslow gets 70% reimbursement for the 250 new Homestead Exemption applications, thus creating a $1,875,000 loss in taxable value.

The Homestead Exemption increased from $20,000 to $25,000 for fiscal year 2020.

A $100,000 home with the Homestead Exemption of $25,000 drops its taxable value to $75,000. Multiplied by .01882, the property tax amounts to $1,411.50.

Homeowners eligible for the Homestead Exemption will actually pay less in taxes, while those who do not qualify for the exemption will pay more.

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