BAR HARBOR — Higher-than-expected revenue in 2019, the first year of the new paid parking program, was a big help in keeping projected tax increases down.
The rescheduled Town Meeting is still two months away (June 30) and the budget review process is ongoing. Town Manager Cornell Knight and Finance Director Stan Harmon have begun revisions to the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in light of the pandemic emergency.
“We’ve already reduced the cruise ship revenue projected for next year, and parking revenues,” Harmon said Monday. The Town Council is set to decide next week how to modify the parking program this summer.
There are limits on how the cruise ship fund and parking fund can be used, but both are used to reimburse the town for many expenses that would otherwise have to be covered by property taxes, such as sidewalk repairs.
“We’re going to have to just lower those transfers this year,” Harmon said. There are some expenses related to those programs that will not be needed, such as police details on cruise ship days, but others will remain. Harbormaster Charlie Phippen, for example, “is still going to spend a great deal of his time on cruise ship-related matters,” Harmon said. The net shortfall compared to the budget for the current fiscal year ending June 30 in the cruise ship fund is expected to be about $165,000.
The due date for the second half of property taxes was pushed back from March 30 to April 30. As of April 21, taxes on more than 400 properties had not yet been received.
The town is also benefiting from changes in interest rates. Refinancing a 2010 public works bond from 3-4 percent interest to 1.12 percent will save the town an estimated $25,000 per year in debt service for ten years.