By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - The Town Council has adopted a tax rate of $21.70 per $1,000 valuation.The new rate, which reflects a $1 increase, allows the town to have an overlay, or surplus, of $58,260, one of the largest amounts in recent years, according to Town Manager Robert Simpson.
The increase in overlay was driven by several concerns, including Gov. John Baldacci's plan to eliminate the Homestead exemption, the fact that the town has budgeted so closely in past years, the uncertainty over possible abatement requests from Dexter Shoe and Fayscott because of the downturn in manufacturing, and the uncertainty over the governor's tax plan, Simpson said.
The trend to push revenue projections to the maximum in the past few years to minimize the property tax burden has resulted in a decreased cash flow into the General Fund each year, the town manager said.
"That results in liquidity issues over the long term and our ability to operate without significant borrowing in anticipation of tax revenues," he explained.
The council decided Thursday that cost-of-living increases would be addressed as part of the bargaining process for those municipal employees who are members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 93. Edward Willey, Maine AFSCME coordinator, had requested in writing that the union members receive the same cost-of-living benefits that were provided to nonunion workers this year. Council members noted that in May, shortly after the union vote, Willey advised town officials via letter that until negotiations resulting in changes to working conditions were ratified by the parties, no changes in benefits, work rules or conditions of employment should be initiated.
When increases were provided to nonunion members in July, Willey fired off a second letter, asking that union members be treated in similar fashion.
As it did in July, the council decided to withhold any cost-of-living increase for bargaining unit employees until negotiations as requested by Willey in his earlier letter were completed.
In other action, the council:
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