Property tax rates will increase 1.6 percent for the 2015-16 fiscal year with adoption of a 24.79-mill rate Thursday by the Board of Finance.

The slightly lower-than-expected mill rate, which takes effect July 1, came about because finance board members are anticipating that a slight lag in collections for the current tax year will actually mean more revenue for the next fiscal year.

The projected tax rate to finance the new year's overall spending package of $291 million had initially been estimated to rise 1.64 percent. The budget had been adopted the previous Monday by the Representative Town Meeting.

Tax Collector Cinda Buchter said the majority of taxpayers late in paying the current year's taxes end up paying levies the next year -- plus a penalty of 18 percent interest.

Chairman Thomas Flynn made the motion to adopt the lower mill rate, which was unanimously approved.

"Having looked at all the variables and risks and strengths, I have no problem with that at all," Chief Fiscal Officer Bob Mayer said.

Under the newly adopted tax rate, the annual property tax bill for median homeowner in Fairfield is expected to increase $137. The median home is assessed at $350,000, or 70 percent of the appraised market value of $500,000, with the tax bill increasing from $8,540 to $8,677 in the new fiscal year.

For the average home in town appraised at $650,000 and assessed at $455,000, the tax bill will rise $177 from $11,102 to $11,279.

There will be a $218 increase from $13,664 to $13,882 for a home appraised at $800,000 and assessed at $560,000.

A home appraised at $1,250,000 and assessed at $875,000 will see an increase of $341, from $21,350 to $21,691.