China assessor recommends second revaluation in two years

by Mary Grow

China select board members held two meetings in succession June 6, first as the town’s board of assessors and then as the select board.

The assessors heard a presentation from professional assessor William Van Tuinen, who recommended the second property revaluation in two years to keep pace with rising real estate sales prices.

Calculating how much to increase values of different types of property will be complicated, he said, because some prices have increased more than others.

If China’s declared valuations lag too far behind actual prices, the state will impose penalties, in the form of reduced reimbursement for homestead, veterans’ and other exemptions.

Board member Wayne Chadwick pointed out that if valuations go up, the tax rate goes down, to generate about the same amount of revenue for the town.

“That’s correct,” Van Tuinen replied.

Board members postponed a decision until Van Tuinen has time to prepare a more specific proposal. He hopes to present one promptly, so that town assessors can approve and he can prepare information needed to set the 20223-23 tax rate.

Reconvening as the select board, members made made three decisions.

They unanimously appointed Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood as China’s codes officer and licensed plumbing inspector and Ryan Page as licensed plumbing inspector to work with her. Page is Vassalboro’s codes officer and plumbing inspector.

Both appointments are valid through June 30. Jaime Hanson has resigned from the China positions; Hapgood said June 10 was his last day, and as of June 6 she had no applicants to fill the position.

Hapgood has no certifications for her new job, but, she said, the state allows 12 months for someone to take the necessary courses to get certified, so appointing her is not illegal.

The second select board decision was to approve an updated contract with the Town of Palermo to continue to share the China transfer station. The minor changes are updating the fee charged Palermo residents for their trash bags and making the fee adjustable annually, without a contract amendment.

Hapgood and Robert Kurek, one of Palermo’s representatives on China’s Transfer Station Committee, negotiated the changes, which still needed approval by the Palermo select board. Working with Kurek was “awesome,” Hapgood commented, praising his consistently constructive suggestions.

Select board members’ third decision was to authorize Hapgood to continue negotiating for an easement that would allow access to Branch Pond for a dry hydrant for firefighters’ use.

In other June 6 business, Hapgood reminded those attending that nomination papers for Nov. 8 local elections will be available Aug. 1. This year voters will elect three select board members, three planning board members, four budget committee members and one representative to the Regional School Unit (RSU) #18 board of directors.

Mention of the RSU election led to a brief discussion of information-sharing between the regional board and the local select board. Hapgood said she plans to invite China’s RSU members to select board meeting four times a year, as proposed during an earlier discussion. Select board member Janet Preston recommended select board members attend RSU meetings, too.

Because of the Juneteenth and Independence Day holidays, the next two regular China select board meetings will be Tuesday evenings, June 21 and July 5. The town office will be closed Monday, June 20, and Monday, July 4.

On Thursday, June 30, the town office will close at noon so staff can complete end-of-the-fiscal-year accounts. The select board will hold a short special meeting at 4 p.m. June 30 for approval of final 2021-2022 bills.


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