Town Government

CITIZEN’S NOTE: The Town’s Fiscal Year ends on June 30 and approval for the town budget takes place at the Annual Town Meeting that is also held in June.

Town Meeting

Town Meeting 2013

Town Meeting 2013

Since the 1800’s Town meeting serves as a time when voters can participate in town business, ask questions, propose ideas and vote on articles, and the Town and School Budgets. It is a citizen’s civic duty to attend and participate in town meetings

The purest form of democracy when you have a say and cast your vote on every darn item on the warrant! The Town Meeting will be advertised in the local papers at least 1 week before the scheduled Town Meeting and Notices are posted on the 4 Town Bulletin Boards (East Side Machiasport, Machiasport Municipal Complex, Bucks Harbor Public Pier and the Starboard Fire Station.)

Question: Why do so few people attend town meetings?

Answer: Some may say there is nothing exciting on the warrant, or it is held the wrong time or the town officials do what they want no matter what people say… Others say we miss the bean suppers once held before town meeting… but folks… It’s the only “SHOW IN TOWN.”

Selectmen's Meeting

Selectmen’s Meeting

Moderator-A Moderator is elected at Town Meeting to manage and run the Town Meeting.

Warrant- The Town will publish a Warrant. The Warrant will list all of the Articles to be voted on. Most articles on the warrant are brief and written to comply with legal requirements.

The Town of Machiasport prints an Annual Report & Town Warrant each year. Copies can be picked up at the Town Office about 2 weeks prior to the scheduled Town Meeting. If you have questions contact the Town Clerk at 207-255-4516.

Voting at Town Meeting – If you want more information on an article on the warrant – ask questions. Many of your neighbors may have the same questions. Direct your question to the Moderator. Keep your questions short. Don’t ask personal questions? Don’t interrupt the person who is trying to answer your question and don’t get personal. Above all do not vote for something you do not understand.

The 2013 Machiasport Town Meeting will be held on June 24, 2013 at Fort O’Brien School.

Right to Know Law

The Right to Know Law requires that written records be created whenever a municipal body or agency 1) issues a denial or conditional approval of any application, license, permit or certificate, or 2) issues a decision involving the dismissal or the refusal to renew the contract of any public official, employee or appointee. The written record must include the decision or the denial, any conditions of approval, and must set forth the reason(s) for the decision, along with written findings of fact sufficient to apprise the applicant and any member of the public of the basis for the decision.

Assessor’s Agent

Board of Assessors Meeting

Board of Assessors Meeting

Hours available Monday 9:30 – 4:00
Appointed by Board of Selectmen
Jim Clark Telephone – Telephone: 255-4516/263-7350 (c)

Property Taxes & State Valuation

The primary method of generating revenue within the Town is through property taxes. These taxes are assessed on local property owners according to the value of their real estate and personal property. This assessment is known as the municipal valuation (the estimated value of all taxable property in Town) and is determined by the local tax assessor.

The Tax Commitment is set after Town Meeting in June. If one has a concern or objects to the taxes assessed on his property the landowner should first speak with the Tax Assessor to see if the issue can be resolved. If the landowner is not satisfied with the tax assessment, abatement may be requested from the Board of Assessors. The landowner should obtain an Application for Abatement and present it to the Board of Assessors within 185 days of the date of commitment of taxes.

State law provides for tax exemptions for certain types of property, such as: charitable and benevolent, religious, literary and scientific, and governmental. Generally, the previously mentioned properties would be totally non-taxable by exemption. Partial exemptions also exist for veterans of foreign wars or their widows that have not re-married; individuals who are legally blind and homestead exemptions for the homeowner’s primary residence. The state does provide some reimbursement to the municipalities for veteran and homestead exemptions.

For information about the Circuit Breaker Program Refund contact www.maine.gov/revenue/netfile/gateway2.htm or call 207-624-7894.

The state also places a total valuation on the town known as the State Valuation. Every year the Maine Revenue Services Property Tax Division reviews all arms’ length sales that have occurred in each community. These sales are compared to the town’s local assessed values to determine the assessment ratio or the percentage of market value that the town is assessing. The states valuation issued to determine the amount of revenue sharing the town will receive and the portion of the county tax that the municipality will pay.

The State indicates that a town should be revalued at least once in every 10-year period. However, they also indicate that a revaluation must be performed when the assessment ratio falls below 70% of market value. The last town wide revaluation was conducted in 1997. The town’s state certified assessment ratio was 73% of market value in 2008; and had dipped below 70% in all three of the prior years.

Machiasport property tax valuation is dominates by residential valuation. Over the past ten year, residential property values have grown dramatically, as reflected in Machiasport valuation. The Town anticipates a slower rate of growth over the planning period. Machiasport has been updating property valuation records, but should conduct a professional comprehensive, revaluation in the near future.

Valuation and Property Taxes

Machiasport’ total valuation increased 88% between 2005 and 2008 from $45.5 million in 2005 to over $85.6 million in 2007. Over the same time period real estate and personal property taxes increased nearly 26% percent from $0.85 million in 2005 to $1.07 million in 2008.

Ratio (%)
2005 $45,480,158 – $852,956 – 0.01765 – 69%
2006 $50,086,157 10% $821,413 -4% 0.01640 -7% 68%
2007 $67,867,360 36% $950,621 16% 0.01380 -16% 57%
2008 $85,634,589 26% $1,074,511 13% 0.01240 -10% 73%
Source: Machiasport Municipal Valuation Returns

Mil Rate

After the town’s budget has been approved and all applicable state and local revenues are deducted from the approved expenditures, the town arrives at the dollar amount that will be raised through tax revenues. This amount is called the net commitment or appropriation. The local assessor arrives at a valuation for each taxable property in the town and the taxpayers are assessed their share of the tax burden through a mathematical calculation. The total appropriation is then divided by the total taxable or assessed valuation of the town to arrive at the minimum tax a sale that occurs between a willing seller and a willing buyer without any extenuating circumstances. Examples of non-arm’s length sales could be estate sales, interfamily transfers, foreclosure sales and auctions.

The overlay is commonly used to pay any tax abatements that are granted during that tax year. Any overlay that remains at the end of the year is usually placed into the general fund. The overlay cannot exceed 5% of the total appropriations. Since the mil rate is a direct result of a mathematical calculation, fluctuations in this rate will occur from year to year if there is a change in the total valuation or the tax commitment. The mil rate in 2005 was $0.01765 and in 2008 was $0.01240 (reflecting more rapid growth in valuation than expenditures.)

County and School Assessment

The combine county and school assessment represents approximately 70% of the overall town budget in Machiasport. While there has been some variation from year to year, over the five year period from 2003 to 2007 “core” municipal expenditures and the school assessments both grew at the same rate. That is to say that both the school assessment and core municipal spending double over this time period. The County assessment also grew, but at a slower rate.

LD 1 –Spending Limitations

In 2005, the State enacted LD 1, which limits the growth of the tax assessments at various levels of government to rates reflective of Maine’s income and population growth. For municipalities, LD 1 establishes a base rate applies to a municipality’s “core” commitment, meaning the amount of revenue approved to fund municipal operations and services, excluding funds allocated for county taxes, local schools, TIF payments, and overlays. The specified growth rate allows property taxes to increase at the rate of Maine’s ten-year average personal income growth (adjusted for inflation) plus growth in the value of new development and improvements (i.e., “property growth factor”), adjusted for any change in state funding for existing services previously funded by property taxes. A municipality wishing to either temporarily exceed or permanently increase its base commitment limit must explicitly vote to do so. Since the law was enacted, the Town of Machiasport has not exceeded its LD 1 spending limitation. To date, LD 1 spending limits have no impacted the community’s ability to pay for needed infrastructure or services.

Long Term Debt

State law limits the amount of debt a municipality may incur. This cap is set at seven (7) percent of the municipality’s State valuation. In addition, a 15 percent limit is applied to the combined total of the town’s debt plus all overlapping debt from quasi-municipal districts, including the school district, water and sewer districts, and county government. The Town of Machiasport does not currently carry any long-term debt.