Vassalboro selectmen put tax rate at 14.48 mil

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen have set the 2021-22 tax rate: 14.48 mil, or $14.48 for each $1,000 of valuation. The town website says the 2019-2020 rate was $14.35 for each $1,000, so the new rate is an increase of 13 cents for each $1,000.

The assessor gave selectmen four rate choices at their Aug. 12 meeting. They chose the second to lowest.

Tax bills are mailed out as soon as possible after the rate is set; property-owners should receive them by early September, if not sooner. By town meeting vote, the first quarterly tax payment is due Monday, Sept. 27, and six percent interest on late payments will begin to accrue seven days after the due date.

The Aug. 12 meeting began with a half-hour executive session discussion with Codes Officer Paul Mitnik and, virtually, attorney Allaina Murphy, of Preti Flaherty’s Portland office. Afterward, selectmen voted unanimously to pursue legal action against the owner of the former church at 14 Priest Hill Road, on Murphy’s advice (see The Town Line, July 22, p. 14).

When Board Chairman Robert Browne invited final audience comments at the end of the meeting, a man identified himself as Chad Caron, owner of the former church, and said he had come to apologize for the trouble his negligence in managing the property had caused.

Caron said his goal is to take advantage of an “incredible opportunity to restore and preserve” the church, but “I bit off more than I could chew.”

He has neither the financial resources nor the time he needs; hence donated materials have piled up in the yard, to neighbors’ dismay. Mitnik has visited the property and reported to selectmen previously. Caron said he was not aware that he could come to a selectboard meeting.

Caron assured selectmen the building is structurally sound and will not fall down. He does not want it to be torn down, and offered to donate it “to someone who can preserve it.”

Historian says Priest Hill Road property was formerly a Methodist church

Vassalboro Historical Society President Janice Clowes says the Priest Hill Road building was formerly a Methodist church, and it is so identified on its photo in the Vassalboro sestercentennial calendar prepared by Don Breton.

Both Henry Kingsbury, in his 1892 history of Kennebec County, and Alma Pierce Robbins, in her 1971 history of Vassalboro, said the town had four Methodist churches, one of them in North Vassalboro. Neither author gave a precise location.

Robbins wrote that the North Vassalboro Methodists bought an unfinished Winslow church and “moved it to the present site about 1875. This pretty little church stands to this day,…white, with a steeple pointing heavenward and a bell to ring on Sunday morning.”

In other business Aug. 12, Browne and Selectman Chris French approved the work Selectman Barbara Redmond and Town Manager Mary Sabins had done on the proposed Mass Gathering Ordinance. They still need information on a couple technical issues and a review by the town attorney before a final document is ready.

Selectmen will schedule a September public hearing on the ordinance. They intend to ask Vassalboro voters to approve it Nov. 2, in anticipation of a planned country music concert in July 2022.

When discussion turned to possible uses for federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) money, Richard Greene, the engineer with Yarmouth-based Hoyle, Tanner and Associates who worked on the Vassalboro Sanitary District’s sewer expansion, asked selectmen to consider assistance to the district.

Selectmen accepted Greene’s offer to send them his list of suggested projects, some essential and others optional. He has included cost estimates and recommended priorities.

The topic will be on the agenda for a later selectmen’s meeting.

Board members had bids for a second compactor at the transfer station, with prices ranging from just under $32,000 to $115,000. Bidders offered a variety of configurations, motor horsepower and potential delivery dates. After discussion that included Transfer Station Manager George Hamar and Road Commissioner Eugene Field, selectmen postponed a decision for more information.

They voted unanimously to let Sabins and Field decide where to use anticipated extra paving money. They unanimously approved Sabins’ planned rearrangement of 2020-21 town funds to cover about $22,000 in overdrafts in two accounts.

After discussion with members and supporters of the town recreation committee, selectmen voted 2-0-1, with French abstaining, to appoint John Fortin a coach. He had failed a background check because of a 10-year-old assault conviction that he described as a result of youthful foolishness.

Browne suggested the selectmen need a clearer policy on interpretation and use of background checks.

Selectmen approved two suggestions Sabins made:

  • When recently retired bookkeeper Jean Poulin is recognized as Employee of the Year at the Nov. 2 Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce banquet, the town will pay the banquet fee for employees who want to see their former co-worker honored. Sabins and Selectboard members intend to pay their own way.
  • Selectmen will schedule a special goal-setting or visioning session, probably in the town office meeting room, probably in early October, to talk about longer-range town issues that they seldom have time to discuss in their meetings.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2.


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