Tentative Bar Harbor Budget $37 million

Potential Budget Increase Shaved Down to 9.5%

Carrie Jones

BAR HARBOR—The Town Council, staff, and Warrant Committee have so far whittled the expected tax increase caused by the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 budget from 17 or 18% to a 9.5% increase.

Interim Town Manager and Finance Director Sarah Gilbert told councilors just prior to the start of their Thursday night executive session about the cruise ship lawsuit.

“I wanted to thank everyone,” she said. “It’s been quite a process.”

Multiple councilors, in turn, thanked her.

If this tentative budget passes in June, the tax rate will change from $9.32 to $10.21. That translates to a $60 increase for a home valued at $405,000.

The budget covers Fiscal Year 2024, which runs from July 2023 through June 2024. The council submits the budget to voters, which approve or tweak it at town meeting in June. Prior to that, the Warrant Committee submits official recommendations about the budget. Both the council and Warrant Committee are elected bodies with multiple seats contested at the June election.

The budget that will eventually be passed or tweaked again by voters will influence the mill rate. The mill rate then influences the tax bill.

According to Gilbert,

“With the current Town assessment, approximately $2,000,000,000,  an estimate would be – for every $100,000 increase in expenditures, the mill rate increases $0.05.

“$500,000 assessed value in FY23, mill rate $9.32/per $1,000, annual tax, $4,660.

$500,000 assessed value in FY24, mill rate $9.82/per $1,000, annual tax, $4,910 with an increase of $1,000,000 in expenditures.”

There will also likely be a bond for school construction in front of the voters in June. The cost of that reconstruction is currently at $54 million. The Conners Emerson building is currently experiencing multiple areas of water infiltration and also has issues with space and safety. Students walk outside between buildings. Offices are now closets.

Gilbert and Town Clerk Liz Graves headed up the budget and budget meeting discussions. Former Town Manager Kevin Sutherland had created the budget with department heads and staff prior to his departure in January.

School Van Request Explained

In a March 3 email to Town Clerk Liz Graves, Conners Emerson Principal Heather Webster further explained the schools’s $50,000 request for a hybrid van (and chargers) to transport students.

She wrote,

via Webster email

The Warrant Committee had suggested that the council ask the school board for more cost effective options to transport student. At the February 28 Town Council meeting, Councilor Gary Friedmann had made a motion to reduce account line 2194-6656, School Van, to $0. It failed for lack of a second.

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