Wolfeboro 2011 tax rate up 10.5%
Proposed operating budget for 2012 only 2.91% higher than 2011
November 10, 2011WOLFEBORO — At the Nov. 2 Board of Selectmen meeting Town Manager Dave Owen presented selectmen with the town's 2011 tax rate, as certified by the state Department of Revenue Administration on Oct. 28.
The rate was set at $12.20 per thousand dollars of valuation, up $1.16 per thousand or 10.5 percent from the rate of $11.04 per thousand set in 2010. This means a property valued at $100,000 will pay $116 more in taxes and a house valued at $300,000 will pay $348 more in 2011.
The property tax rate is made up of four components: the town portion, the school portion, the state education tax portion and the county portion.
The town portion rose from $3.93 per thousand in 2010 to $4.46 per thousand in 2011, an increase of 53 cents of 13.5 percent. According to Owen the increase came from capital improvement items as well as increases in the operating budget. He added that the town used $1.2 million of its reserve to lower the rate from $4.92 to $4.46.
The Governor Wentworth Regional School District portion increased from 3.79 per thousand in 2010 to $4.39 per thousand in 2011, an increase of 60 cents or 15.8 percent.
The state education tax went from $2.33 in 2010 to $2.34 in 2011, up only a penny or 0.4 percent. The Carroll County portion went up only two cents, from 99 cents per thousand to $1.01 per thousand, or 2 percent.
Despite the increase Owen said Wolfeboro maintained its status as a town with one of the lowest property tax rates in the state. Chairman Sarah Silk pointed out that in 2010 Wolfeboro was ranked 216th out of 260 ranked towns (Berlin was in first place with a rate of $31.70 per thousand).
Selectman Dave Bowers pointed out that "Wolfeboro has many more amenities than other towns at that lower rate," making it very economic to live in this town.
Selectman Linda Murray said a total of $1.8 million in capital projects were not bonded last year and were thus paid out of taxes raised – major factor in the tax rate increase. She added that it could be worse: part of her Wolfeboro property lies in New Durham where the rate is $22.42 per thousand.
After weeks of meetings with department heads reviewing their budget requests for next year, selectmen finalized the 2012 budget and sent it along to the town Budget Committee for review in November.
The Wolfeboro budget comes in two parts: the General Fund (operating) budget and the Enterprise Funds budget. For 2012 the proposed General Fund budget is up $323,676 or 2.91 percent over the $11,109,385 approved by voters for 2011.
The 2012 budget for Enterprise Funds was down $159,029 or -1.01 percent.
The total combined General and Enterprise budgets were up only $165,646 or 0.65 percent.
Town Manager Owen noted that the General Fund budget includes salaries negotiated with the Association of State County and Municipal Employees (ASCME) but only base salaries for member of the police union. The town is still negotiating with the police union. Because any police union increases would be subject to voter approval, they will not be included in the operating budget anyway, but will be submitted for voter approval in a separate warrant article next March.
According to Owen, "the AFSCME salary increases are included in the budget as they are going into the second year of a two-year contract. AFSCME unit members receive a $350 increase in their base wages next year, and those eligible for step increases will receive step increases of three percent."
Bowers said that selectmen did not cut employee salaries despite a goal of achieving a one percent budget decrease. He said health benefits were up along with the cost of fuel. According to Owen health insurance costs are up 5.7 percent – higher than the town would like to see but lower than the double-digit increases of recent years.