WOODFORD -- The Woodford Select Board set a municipal tax rate Wednesday nearly double the previous year's rate.
The municipal rate in fiscal year 2013 is nearly 6 cents for every $100 of assessed property value, up from 3.3 cents in fiscal 2012.
The municipal rate increase comes on the heals of a 10 percent hike in the homestead tax rate. The homestead rate (or education tax rate) was set by the state last month at $1.08, which is an increase of more than 9 cents from last year.
Combining the two, taxpayers in Woodford will be asked to pay $1.14 for every $100 of property -- meaning a person who owns a $100,000 home will have to pay $1,140 in taxes, an increase of $120 from last year.
The municipal rate was set about a month later than usual, which Select Board Chairman Ryan Thurber said was because the board did not have the grand list used to set the rate at previous meetings. Thurber said the board has been waiting to receive the grand list from Town Treasurer Ron Higgins, who did not attend previous meetings.
"The only problem leading to not having the tax bills out when they were originally supposed to be sent was not having all of our financial information from the treasurer," Thurber said.
Thurber and others in town this week called for creation of a town charter, in part to allow the recall of elected officials. A public meeting to discuss a possible charter and a recall provision was held this week following a year-long series of disputes involving the Select Board and Higgins.
To set the tax rate, Thurber said Friday, the Select Board agreed to use a grand list figure from a few months ago of $577,600.
The reason for the increase in the town's tax rate, Thurber said, is largely due to a new $10,000 line in the budget to pay interest on a loan needed for river work and an additional $8,000 to conduct a financial audit.
The tax bills are expected to be sent to residents soon. "We need to get them out. We're already a month late," Thurber said.
On the school side of things the tax rate increase stems from both Woodford's elementary school budget and Mount Anthony Union School District's tax rate also going up.
The elementary budget is up nearly 3 percent, but impacting the tax rate even greater is a decrease of two equalized pupils. In a school as small as Woodford Hollow, a drop from 29 to 27 equalized pupils causes a significant swing in spending per equalized pupil, which in turn affects the tax rate. MAU's tax rate also went up due to a slight increase in spending and significant drop in equalized pupils.
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