Taxes, assessments dominate selectmen’s meeting

by Mary Grow

Taxes were the last, but not the least, item discussed at the June 10 China selectmen’s meeting.

The bottom line: tax bills sent out late this summer will show increases in valuation and an increase in the rate, neither dramatically large. Tax Assessor William Van Tuinen is still working on local values and the legislature has not decided state funding to municipalities, so final figures are not available yet.

Van Tuinen explained that local valuations, made by paid assessors like him, need to be within 10 percent of state valuations made by state officials. If a town falls below an average of 90 percent, the state imposes penalties in the form of limits on homestead and veterans’ exemptions.

Both valuations are based on sales; the state uses two-year-old figures, Van Tuinen used last year’s. Both valuations exclude the extreme sales – the family who was lucky enough to get an astronomical sum for their property and the family who sold among themselves for a token amount.

China’s valuations are low enough to need adjusting, Van Tuinen said. He recommended reversing a 2012 reduction (in response to the economic crisis that started in 2008, about the time of China’s last full revaluation). Doing so would increase building values by 10 percent town-wide and rural land values by 15 percent, leaving shoreland land values as they are, he said.

An alternative would be to increase building values by five percent and rural land values by 7.5 percent, with a second increase in two or three years if the economy continues to expand. Either one, Van Tuinen said, would enable him to say China met state standards.

Neither proposed change would increase the total amount raised by taxation. Either change would redistribute it – to the detriment of local people compared to non-resident shorefront owners, resident Wayne Chadwick pointed out.

Town Manager Dennis Heath said the current mil rate is 15.8, or $15.80 in taxes for each $1,000 of valuation. Based on the incomplete information available as of June 10, he estimated Van Tuinen’s full adjustment would lower the rate slightly to 15.7 mils. Half the adjustment would raise the rate to about 16.4 mils. Leaving valuations as they are would mean a rate of around 17.1 mils.

After about 45 minutes’ discussion, selectmen voted unanimously to raise building valuations by 5 percent and rural land values by 7.5 percent, with the understanding that depending on the market, they might need another increase fairly soon.

In other actions June 10:

  • Returning to the equipment bids left unfinished at their May 28 meeting, selectmen unanimously voted to have Chadwick supply an excavator, dump truck and bulldozer as needed for road work over the summer. Public Works Manager Shawn Reed encouraged them to plan to buy an excavator; owning one would save money over rentals and give the town crew more flexibility in planning work, he said.
  • Selectmen unanimously awarded the 2019 paving bid to Hopkins Paving of Herman, for $268,608.
  • After a short discussion in executive session, they unanimously hired William Butler, of Jefferson, as codes enforcement officer and licensed plumbing inspector, intending him to work with and then succeed Paul Mitnik.
  • They unanimously appointed Ralph Howe as District Three representative on the planning board.

They tabled Heath’s request for approval to spend $13,338 for a lighted sign for notices at the transfer station, similar to the one at the town office. Selectman Irene Belanger recommended seeking the Transfer Station Committee’s opinion.

If selectmen stay on their regular schedule, their next meeting should be Monday evening, July 8.


Responsible journalism is hard work!
It is also expensive!

If you enjoy reading The Town Line and the good news we bring you each week, would you consider a donation to help us continue the work we’re doing?

The Town Line is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit private foundation, and all donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Service code.

To help, please visit our online donation page or mail a check payable to The Town Line, PO Box 89, South China, ME 04358. Your contribution is appreciated!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *