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Re-evaluation question on November ballot
RUMFORD -- The Board of Selectmen voted Thursday to place a request of a bond application for a re-evaluation on the November ballot. The recommendation will be for $350,000.
Craig Chamberlain, chairman of the three-person Board of Assessors, explained to the board that the last re-evaluation was completed 14 years ago in 1999.
"The state advises that it should be done every 10 years so that properties are on a level playing field and everyone paying their fair share. The longer you get away from a re-val, the more unlevel the playing field gets. You have more paying too much and more people not paying enough," he said.
"Our objective is to get everyone paying their fair share, no more, no less. This is not just the municipal budget. This is the school budget, county budget and everything else," said Chamberlain.
He said residential properties, commercial properties, investment properties and all business equipment will be re-evaluated. A rule of thumb is about $100 per property for a re-val, depending upon how extensive you get.
"For the number of properties we have, you're looking at between $300,000 and $350,000," said Chamberlain, noting that the recommendation of the Board of Assessors is to go with the $350,000.
"In the last 14 years, we've managed to set aside $30,000. At the current rate, it will be completed in 154 years," he said. "It really needs to be done and I think the only fair way to do it at this point in time is to put it to a bond issue and let the people who are going to be affected by having it done or not having it done make a decision on whether we're going to do a re-val.
Chamberlain noted, "This does not change anything about how much the county spends, how much money the town spends, how much money the school spends. This is only, as best we can, makes sure that each property owner and every taxpayers is paying their fair share. It really is in the best interest of all the taxpayers to have this done. The large industrial folk get it done every year."
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said they would not be able to apply for the bond until next April as the bond dates are October and April. He recommended the $350,000 amount.
The work would be put out to contract to a professional appraising company.
In other business, a special town meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17 to establish a new collection date for taxes, due to the lateness of approving a municipal budget.
Puiia noted that "because they set the collection date for Oct. 1, we should go to a special town meeting. This only requires a show of hands, so it could be done prior to the regular Board of Selectmen's meeting."
The board gave their approval to go out to bid for a tax anticipation note.
Puiia said he's been in contact with the Rumford mill manager and they will be making a pre-payment of $1 million on their property taxes, "which should assist us quite well."
However, he noted that it's not just the municipality bills they have to pay, but that the town also has to pay a school district bill of around $500,000 per month.
The note is in the event that there were interruptions in the town's cash flow. The Finance Committee would have input as well on this matter.
"It just gets that paperwork ready and prevents us from having to scramble," said Puiia.
Board Chairman Greg Buccina added this is a town protection piece, just in case. It is something they have done before.
"We're never had to act on it, and I hope we don't have to act on it. But I feel this is a tool, just in case we get to that point, we have an ace in the hole, if you will," he said.
Updating the town's plan to remove 116 street lights as a cost-savings measure, Puiia noted people have asked him if they could just shut them off, as opposed by removing them.
He noted that the town pays rent to CMP for street lights, a fee that's charged whether they're on or not. "So we really can't do that. We can't meet the savings that we anticipate by leaving those lights unoperational."
Puiia said these lights were not just identified by himself, but were also reviewed by the police chief, the fire chief and the public works director.
"These were not just picked willy-nilly, other than spacing. We tried to leave those at intersections, those near call boxes, fire hydrants," he said.
"If somebody believes that light should remain, they should write a short, descriptive reason why that street light should remain operational; there could be a safety concern or an issue that may have been overlooked." said Puiia, adding that the cost to a person to retain a street light would be around $15/month.
Puiia said the removal of these street lights would mean a savings of around $24,000 yearly. There are presently 754 street lights the town is responsible for in Rumford, Rumford Center and Rumford Point.
Selectman voted to add the town of Roxbury to the Ladder Truck Joint Purchase Agreement that also includes Rumford and Mexico.
Fire Chief Robert Chase explained to the board that by adding Roxbury, the price Rumford pays for the ladder truck would decrease by “about $1,000,” while Mexico's savings would amount to $200.
“Roxbury has already set aside some money to buy into the agreement,” Chase said. “Basically, it's a win-win situation.”
Buccina questioned what effect the extra mileage would have on the truck if Roxbury ended up using it.
“Roxbury uses the ladder truck for a very small percentage of their calls, so the mileage wouldn't have much of an effect on the truck,” Chase said. Rumford already uses the ladder truck to assist Roxbury.
“Because of mutual aid, we help them out if they need help,” Chase said, “but we figure this way, they'll be able to have the benefit of the truck and help us out with the cost.”
The proportion of Roxbury's payment, according to Chase, is “equitable in comparison to Rumford and Mexico, based on their population and their usage of the truck.”