Newly-elected Vassalboro Selectman Barbara Redmond got an introduction to almost everything the board does at her first meeting on July 23. She participated in the on-going discussions of paying bills and overseeing town departments; in the annual ritual of setting the tax rate; and in the once-in-a-lifetime planning of a 250th anniversary celebration.
Selectmen unanimously set the 2020-21 tax rate at 14.35 mils, or $14.35 for each $1,000 of valuation. By town meeting vote, the first quarterly payment is due at the town office by the close of business Monday, Sept. 28. Town Manager Mary Sabins expects tax bills will be mailed out by the week of Aug. 10.
The 2019-2020 rate was 15.6 ($15.60 for each $1,000 of valuation), Sabins said. However, the lower rate will not necessarily mean residents get a lower tax bill for 2020-21, because, Sabins said, the assessor has increased all valuations by 11 percent, as required to bring local valuations closer to the state’s.
Sabins reported on two staff changes, one done and one pending.
Adam Daoust of Vassalboro has been hired as the new assistant at the transfer station, starting July 28. And the town is advertising for a successor to Deputy Clerk Debbie Johnston-Nixon, who is retiring from the town office staff effective Aug. 21.
The town is also advertising the old police cruiser, a 2007 Impala, for sale, Sabins said.
Selectmen had a memo from Engineer Al Hodsdon, of A. E. Hodsdon Engineers, in Waterville, on tentative plans for a transfer station redesign. They decided to invite Hodsdon for a discussion at their Aug. 20 meeting.
Board members reviewed Sabins’ draft bid specifications for a new metal roof on the snack shack at the ballfields and approved with one change.
The recreation committee oversees the ballfields and snack shack. Sabins said the committee plans to show a movie, to a drive-in audience, as a fund-raiser. The date is to be determined.
Public Works Director Eugene Field got selectmen’s approval to have Bog Road repaved this year instead of Lombard Dam Road, which he will add to the summer 2021 schedule. Preparatory culvert work on Lombard Dam Road has been delayed, he said. The Bog Road work will be 0.8 miles longer, but paving bids were low enough so the budget won’t be exceeded.
Selectman John Melrose, newly-elected board chairman, pointed out that Bog Road is closer to other 2020 paving work, an advantage. Having traveled the road, he agreed it could use resurfacing.
Sabins reported on an email from Scott Pierz, of China, President of the China Lake Association, proposing consideration of China assuming management of the China Lake outlet dam in East Vassalboro. China selectmen heard Pierz’s suggestion that China buy the dam at their July 20 meeting (see The Town Line, July 23, p. 3).
Melrose’s reaction was, “Leave it be for now,” and board member Rob Browne added, “See what happens.” Sabins said there is no rush; any decision to sell town property would need voter ratification, presumably at the spring 2021 town meeting.
Melrose has been heading planning for the 250th anniversary of Vassalboro’s incorporation as a town on Apr. 26, 1771, including superintending improvements at the park in East Vassalboro. Selectmen briefly discussed setting up an anniversary committee and suggested two residents they thought might be willing to head it.
Residents who are interested in the committee or have ideas for the celebration – as Browne pointed out, “This is a tough time to plan mass gatherings” – should get in touch with town office staff.
Selectmen left two other matters for a future meeting, either Aug. 20 or Sept. 3: public hearings on planned disbursements of previously-promised additional Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds to the Alewife Restoration Initiative (ARI) and the Vassalboro Sanitary District (VSD); and a presentation by the town’s auditor on the most recent completed audit, for fiscal year 2018-2019.