Wiscasset Selectmen

Wiscasset’s taxes up nearly two percent

Wed, 10/16/2013 - 8:30am

    It'll hurt just a little.

    Wiscasset property owners have a slight hike coming in their tax bills this year. The town's new rate of $16.20 per $100,000 of assessed valuation is up 1.89 percent from last year.

    That will mean $45 more to pay this year on a $150,000 home, Town Manager Laurie Smith said.

    Selectmen set the rate October 15. They went with Smith's recommendation to offset the burden from local, county and school district tabs with $125,000 from the town's fund balance.

    That amount follows a trend of smaller annual takes, but it's the most dramatic cut in recent history. Three years ago, the board tapped the fund balance for $529,526, according to information Smith provided; two years ago, $500,000; and last year, $480,000.

    The aim has been to make the town less dependent on the fund balance, Smith said.

    “(This) is a big change from the $480,000, but it certainly sets you on the right path,” Smith told board members Tuesday night.

    Buyer beware?

    The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office has put signs on equipment at Mason Station, warning that the items have been seized in connection with the town's successful lawsuit for unpaid taxes.

    The department put up the signs for the town because the equipment appeared to be wrapped and ready for shipment, Smith said.

    “At this point, we have done what we can to make sure that equipment is not sold without knowledge that we do have legal rights to the property,” Smith said.

    The town obtained most of the lots at Mason Station through foreclosures for more than $800,000 in unpaid taxes.

    Hearing draws no debate

    The only comment Wiscasset's possible withdrawal from Regional School Unit 12 garnered at a public hearing October 15 came from Selectman Pam Dunning. She reminded residents the November 5 vote will decide if the withdrawal happens; a majority “yes” vote will only trigger the withdrawal if 833 people turn out to vote.

    “This is the last vote .... If they have real interest ... they need to go to the polls and voice their opinion,” Dunning said.

    Also during the hearing, Town Planner Misty Parker said the proposed road ordinance offers a tiered-system, increasing a road's requirements as development increases traffic.

    Another ordinance on the ballot would set rules on adult entertainment businesses' locations and signage. The rules stem from residents' concerns, Parker said.

    Towns can regulate the businesses, but cannot ban them, she said.

    Absentee voting is under way. Vote at the town clerk's office, or call or stop by to pick up a ballot; have one picked up by an immediate family member, or by someone else the voter designates in writing; or go online to request a ballot, at www.maine.gov. Click on “Online Services.”