Budget cuts keep Naples mil rate stable

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Naples residents should be pleased that the property tax rate will stay the same as last year.

However, the less pleasing news is that the tax bills will be in the mail by early to mid-September.

The Naples tax rate has been set at $13.55.

On Monday, the Naples Board of Selectmen unanimously approved that amount, which was recommended by the town manager.

It would have been a different scenario and a higher tax rate if, at the Town Meeting on June 1, the residents had voted via written ballot to exceed the tax levy limit set by state legislation.

But, the voting public said no to that prospect.

As a result, a series of budget meetings were held with the goal of cutting at least $215,000 from the budget. During this process, Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak highlighted for the Naples Budget Committee areas where the budget could be reduced. On July 15, Naples voters backed those budget cuts at a Special Town Meeting.

On Monday, as a flat-lined tax rate was set, it seemed that the hard work of the budget committee and town officials had paid off, and property owners will pay less.

“I was pleased that it (the tax rate) didn’t go up,” Budget Committee Chairman Jim Turpin said.

“The bottom line is: That was what we strived for this year,” Turpin said.

“Due to the state mandated LD1 spending limits, Naples was required to reduce its municipal budget by $215,000. The budget reduction ultimately came in at (more than) $220,000, reducing the proposed 2015–2016 budget from $3,420,000 to $3,192,000, which came out to less than the 2014–2015 municipal budget of $3,268,000,” Turpin said.

“I would be delighted to see the budget go down next year,” he said.

“The Town of Naples is in an enviable position. Historically, we take in more than we spend, and we have funds that aren’t spent,” Turpin said.

“Naples always has a healthy surplus of money” in several accounts, he said.

This year, as budget cuts were being made, one of the larger single cuts ($127,000) was taken from Capital Reserves, which totaled $450,000.

“Less than $51,000 was spent, so this was a likely place to look for a significant budget reduction,” he said.

Also, as part of budget reductions for this fiscal year, $105,000 was scratched from the paving budget. The Capital Reserve paving budget account had $400,000 and none had been spent during the previous fiscal year, Turpin said.

Going forward, the budget committee has started meeting every third Wednesday of the month, Turpin said.

When the tax rate was being discussed, Paraschak said, “Naples for the past couple years has used $190,000 of the Undesignated Fund Balance to keep the tax rate down.”

He referred to it as a Catch-22.

While the decision might give some temporary tax relief, continuing to do so would run that account low. Eventually taxes would have to be raised to build up the Undesignated Fund Balance. Typically, auditors advise that a town keep on hand operating expenses for a three-month period.

 

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