Is Kit-TAX-ery a suburb of taxachussetts?

The Kittery Town manager, incidentally, a resident of Massachusetts has submitted another staggering budget to the Town Council. The Town Manager, says the increase in demand for community programs, challenges within the labor market, and a new town communications director is the impetus for the 2022 budget.

Amaral submitted the Kittery’s proposed the 2023 fiscal year budget of $16,681,394 to members of the Town Council last week. The budget proposal is a 4.47% increase over the $15,966,995 FY 2022 budget. Some residents ask, has there has been an consistent and significant rise in property taxes since Amaral has started working in Kittery?

Comparison History for the last few years.

In 2015, acting Town Manager Maryann Place on Monday night unveiled a proposed $12.2 million fiscal year 2014 municipal budget, up 5.5 percent over the current budget.

In 2016 Council passed a municipal budget of $12 million for fiscal year 2015, a 1.7 percent increase over the current year’s budget. Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff was in charge.

In 2017, Kittery Town Council gets first glance of 2017 budget. The proposed town budget for the 2017 fiscal year would increase the property tax rate by 22 cents, a 1.4 percent increase over last year’s budget. Interim Town Manager Carol Granfield previewed the $28.6 million budget for the council for the first time at Monday’s council meeting. Kendra Amaral started shortly there after.

In 2018, the proposed FY18 budget, inclusive of municipal, school, and capital spending has a total increase in expenditures of $1,067,320, approximately 3.66% increase over the prior fiscal year.

In 2019, the proposed FY19 budget, inclusive of municipal, school, and capital spending has a total increase in expenditures of $1,374,716, an approximate 4.5% increase over the prior fiscal year. For comparison, the FY18 budget represented a $1,425,176 increase, or approximately 4.9%.

In 2020, Amaral initiated a reevaluation. As you recall, there were some who claimed it was a ruse to raise taxes. The tax rate had been experiencing significant pressure, in part due to assessed values being well below market values. In 2019, the Town launched a property revaluation effort to bring values closer to 99% of market. The Town’s valuation was certified at approximately 79% of market value with the prior year’s budget. The revaluation effort has resulted in a valuation growth of approximately $563M. Typically, annual value growth has averaged $15M. The mil rate for FY21 is projected to decrease $4 per thousand of value as a result of the revaluation. The proposed FY21 budget, inclusive of municipal operations and capital spending is decreasing $202,266 or approximately 1.34% reduction. Some say it was only smoke and mirrors and fuzzy math.

If the voters (usually a handful of the total of registered Town voters) approve the town and school budgets , owners of a Kittery home assessed at $422,000 would see their property taxes rise by $177.24.

Kittery is adding positions while residents are struggling. You have a say, it’s up to the people to say enough. Kittery has realized the high tax rates before and have tried many things to slow it and curb it. As an example, in 1987, the TAX CAP group came into being by concerned citizens to set a limit on tax increases. They sent a message that “enough was enough.” As with everything, it has it pros and cons. This set a ceiling on the taxes that the Town Manager and school department had to manage within.

Contact your elected officials below. Apparently Cameron Hamm and Cyrus Clark do not share their phone numbers. Click their names for the email links.

Judy SpillerChair11/08/21-11/11/24207-439-0637
George DowVice Chair11/09/20-11/13/23603-339-8468
Jeffrey Pelletier11/07/19-11/14/22207-703-8842
Cyrus Clark11/08/21-11/11/24
Cameron Hamm06/08/21-11/13/23
Mary Gibbons Stevens06/08/21-11/08/22207-752-0990
Colin McGuire11/08/21-11/11/24207-939-4963

In fairness, its not all the Town Managers fault, the school board shares the blame, the Council who approve it and rubber stamp uncontrolled spending and the voters who vote the budget in without questioning it.

Data received from the Portsmouth Herald, Kittery Town report, other web outlets.