At their Aug. 17 meeting, Vassalboro select board members set the 2023-24 tax rate, discussed pending changes and distributed a bit of praise.
The new tax rate will be 12.72 mils, or $12.72 for each $1,000 of property valuation. The figure is slightly below the range assessor Ellery Bane recommended, and will provide less money in the overlay account than Bane suggested.
Overlay is used to pay for tax abatements or refunds. The 2023-24 account will have about $30,000, which select board members expect will be enough.
The current mil rate is 14.40 ($14.40 per $1,000). Because board members earlier accepted Bane’s recommendation to increase all valuations by 20 percent (see the June 29 issue of The Town Line, p. 2), an average tax bill will go up, despite the lower rate.
Town Manager Aaron Miller expected to commit the taxes Aug. 21. Bills will go out as soon as they can be prepared for mailing. By town meeting vote, the first quarterly payment is due by Monday, Sept. 25.
Board members agreed to include with each tax bill an opinion survey. They accepted three questions proposed by the town planning board and others suggested at the Aug. 17 meeting, leaving precise wording of the new ones to Miller.
An agenda item labeled “Bog Road detour,” referring to state plans to replace the Bog Road bridge in 2025 (see the July 20 issue of The Town Line, p. 3), led to a wide-ranging discussion of road-related issues.
Miller said he has a draft agreement with the state about detouring on town roads that needs review by the town attorney.
He has invited staff from the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to talk about repaving Route 32 through North and East Vassalboro. Specific issues include the Vassalboro Sanitary District manholes and the granite curbing in North Vassalboro.
Select board members do not want the granite curbing replaced with higher-maintenance concrete.
The manhole covers are a major problem, residents and public works employee Brian Lajoie said, because the edges are slightly above the pavement level. Lajoie said hitting one with a snowplow brings the machine to a dead stop and often damages the blade, and it isn’t always possible to dodge or to lift the plow in time.
They’re a menace to ordinary traffic, too, resident James Schad said, as drivers stop abruptly or swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid hitting them.
The manholes belong to the Sanitary District, whose officials told select board members they cannot afford to have them redone. MDOT has disclaimed responsibility for them. The town owns neither the covers nor the road, though the town crew plows the road for the state.
Town seeks new codes & animal officers
The Town of Vassalboro is looking for a new codes enforcement officer/plumbing inspector/building inspector and a new animal control officer.
Codes officer Robert Geaghan, Jr., has submitted his resignation effective at the end of October. Animal control officer Peter Nerber plans to be done in November, Town Manager Aaron Miller told select board members at their Aug. 17 meeting.
Additional information is on the town website, vassalboro.net.
Those interested in information about or applications for either position can call the town office at 207-872-2826 or email Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A resident raised yet another road issue: what he called vandalism as drivers deliberately damage town roads by doing donuts, peeling out and otherwise leaving black marks on the pavement. The practice harms the roads, lowers nearby property values and disturbs residents, he said. The Sheriff’s Office told him the problem was the town’s, not theirs.
Other audience members cited vehicle damage to fields and other off-road properties.
The resident asked select board members to draft an ordinance that would set penalties. Lajoie found a Somerville report saying that town’s officials sent an offender a letter threatening an injunction and a suit for damages; he did not know whether Somerville had a local ordinance.
Lajoie summarized 2023 paving plans for select board members. He expects the work to be done toward the end of September.
Now that the public works department has bought a new trailer (under budget, Miller said), Lajoie asked whether to trade in the old one or try to sell it. Select board members authorized a trade-in.
On a different subject, board members considered the only bid received for painting the North Vassalboro fire station roof, and expressed concern about spending more than $14,000 and getting only a one-year warranty. After discussion, they asked Miller to seek price quotes for replacing the roof instead of repainting it.
Another expenditure was approved cheerfully: board members unanimously contracted with Darrell Gagnon, owner of Attention to Detail Lawn Care, in North Vassalboro, to continue to mow town properties for another five years. Gagnon had built in small price increases over the life of the contract.
Board members are satisfied with his work and said they had received no complaints. Asked about the new Eagle Park, on Route 32, Gagnon said he is already mowing it. Recreation Director Karen Hatch praised his care of the town ballfields.
Gagnon also mows for Vassalboro’s school department. His contracts do not include town cemeteries, which are done by Scott Bumford. Gagnon praised Bumford’s work, and Lajoie agreed.
Select board members congratulated Vassalboro librarian Brian Stanley on the $24,999 grant the library received this summer. He explained the money will be used to turn two storage rooms into rooms where individuals or small groups can use computers in private for work, zoom meetings, telehealth and other purposes. He plans also to strengthen the library’s wifi signal.
Items now in storage will go into a separate building, for which the public works crew is preparing a pad, Stanley said. He expects the storage building to be in place this fall and an electrician to work during the winter.
Another project, removing tree limbs hanging over the library building, has been completed, and a resident donated money to cover the cost, Stanley reported.
Stanley shared with select board members excerpts from the library by-laws, which say they can come to library board meetings and can vote.
In other business Aug. 17:
- Miller recommended transferring management of the Vassalboro website to TownCloud Group, based in Broomfield, Colorado, least expensive of several companies that offered quotes. Select board member Michael Poulin asked for a demonstration; Miller will make arrangements. The manager praised current webmaster David Jenney.
- Miller is still exploring ideas for supplying select board members with laptops and for putting meetings on line, as they’re conducted or as recordings or both.
- Board members appointed as members of the recreation committee, for one-year terms: Kris Stewart, baseball commissioner; Ryan Reed, softball commissioner and secretary; Kevin Phanor, basketball commissioner; Melissa Olson, soccer commissioner; Vickie Limberger, fundraiser and senior events; and John Fortin and Marie Fortin, members at large. Miller plans a committee meeting soon.
- A proposed discussion of future improvements at the transfer station was postponed, probably until after the transfer station task force headed by select board chairman Chris French meets on Sept. 14.
At their July 13 meeting, board members scheduled a public hearing on proposals to slow traffic through East Vassalboro (see again the July 20 issue of The Town Line, p. 3) for their Thursday, Sept. 7 meeting. They tentatively scheduled the transfer station discussion for their Sept. 21 meeting.
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