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Mexico looking to spread out windfall
MEXICO -- At a time when state revenue sharing has been reduced, Mexico has received an unexpected windfall of $704,975.10 from the Maine State Retirement Association because the town's account was closed out.
Town Manager John Madigan told the Board of Selectmen on April 12 that this news was announced at a budget meeting last week.
He explained, "More than a month ago, the retirement system called several towns that are inactive in the system and we've been inactive since 2004. We've been members since 1964 and we have very few people who are drawing retirement. But all of those funds have been pulled out into a different fund for those folks, so we have basically no one in the system. What they said was that they were calling the inactive towns to see if they wanted to close out their funds."
"These are funds that would have been the town's contribution back in the sixies, seventies and eighties, and a lot of people who work in municipalities or if they move or go to another town," he said. "They were all able to take theur contribution out of the town's contribution. So we have no obligation on this money. We didn't know exactly what that money was going to be until they actually sold the assets because the state invests all these assets."
Madigan said they thought it would be around $600,000, but it came in at $704,000.
"What we talked about at the budget meeting last week was trying to spread it out, particularly since this is the first big year to fund the debt service, the money that we've borrowed over the last few years. The most difficult time to finance that debt is going to be for the next five years. So we were looking at what we could pay off, what could be set up to allocate for some of those debt payments for those five years. It looks like there's enough money to soften the blow of at least a mil rate out of two for each of the next five years, if that's what everyone decides to do."
Rec Director Greg Arsenault asked for a motion to divide that money up among the Mexico residents at the meeting.
Resident Dr. Albert Aniel said that would be about $66,000 apiece.
"I'd just like to point out that the check was paid to the order of Town of Mexico, John Madigan, Jr., town manager," noted Madigan. "I got a kick out of that, putting my name on that check."
Arsenault joked, "Filet mignon at this year's Night of Appreciation."
Madigan said the mill rate would have gone up about $2 per $1,000 valuation if the retirement fund money hadn't arrived. The current tax rate is $21.50 per $1,000 valuation on a $2.6 million municipal budget.
Taxes still could go up, contingent upon the amount of the Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 budget. The town's share likely won't be known until June.
In other business, Madigan said that the town will be receiving $382,400 in revenue sharing from the state. In comparison, Mexico received $390,000 last year. "So we're not going to take a $100,000 loss like we have for the last two years."
Selectmen gave their okay to send a request for a toll booth to Police Chief Jim Theriault for his approval.
The request was made by the Mountain Valley Eagles girls' travel team (grades 5-8). The toll booth, if approved by Theriault, would be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday by Big Daddy's on Main Street.