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November 22. 2012 8:19PM

Tax bills down 3.2 percent in Lee

LEE - Even though revenues continue to drop, most residents will see a slight decrease in their tax bills this year.

On Nov. 1, the state Department of Revenue Administration set the overall tax rate at $29.94 per $1,000 of local valuation. It is 18 cents - or 3.2 percent - less than last year's rate of $30.12.

The tax rate breaks down as $6.67 for town, $18.22 for local school, $2.41 for state schools and $2.64 for county. Last year, it was $7.03 for the town, $17.91 for local schools, $2.51 for state schools and $2.67 for the county.

Town Administrator Julie Glover said officials have tried to take measures in the past few years to keep costs low. After the information technology director left, the town decided to keep the position open, which helped lower the town's portion by 36 cents.

Residents were told to expect to see an increase in the local school rate, which rose by 31 cents, according to Susan Caswell, business administrator at Oyster River Cooperative School District.

"For the most part last year, we proposed a level budget," Caswell said, although she predicts an increase in all three communities - Durham, Lee and Madbury.

Caswell said the district hopes to present another level-funded budget next year but will receive about $500,000 less revenue from the state for retirement while student enrollment is decreasing in all three communities.

Both factors will affect the bottom line, Caswell said, adding usually the budgets are offset by more development in the area, which has been low for several years.

The overall valuation of the town increased by $3,565,707 - or .87 percent - from $408,425,460 to $411,991,167.


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