CHELSEA

June 29, 2012

Town manager: Tax bills to be higher this year

CHELSEA -- Residents can expect an increase in their tax bills this year.

Town Manager Scott Tilton told selectmen Wednesday that he would have a better idea what the amount will be after assessors finish reviewing property throughout the town sometime in July.

Tilton said the estimated tax rate will increase from $16.30 per $1,000 of property valuation to $17.04. That is based on an estimated municipal valuation of $144,628,503, he said.

He said the school portion of the $17.04 tax rate is $13.37, an increase of 44 cents per $1,000 in property value.

The county portion is $1.03, which had no effect on the tax rate, because the town's valuation went up, he said.

The town's portion is $2.64, a 30-cent increase per $1,000 in valuation.

When you add the 44-cent increase for schools and 30-cent increase for the town, he said, homeowners with property valued at $100,000 will pay $74 more in their annual tax bills.

"The major increase in the municipal portion is winter roads and reserve accounts. We started to fund those again, and the (townwide) revaluation," Tilton said. "We raised $45,000 at town meeting from taxes, and the other $90,000 for that is coming from our savings accounts."

He said tax bills will go out in early September, and payment is due Oct. 2.

The amounts were approved on the warrant at last week's town meeting, he said.

Selectman Mike Pushard said the increase is reasonable, considering what the town has been through.

"Given what the accountant told us in December, anyone who knows the situation, how critical it was, I'm ecstatic," Pushard said.

Chelsea is recovering after years of management problems and the arrest of former selectwoman Carole Swan.

It also has had two lawsuits to deal with from a former town clerk and the town's snowplow contractor, from whom Swan was accused of extorting money three times in exchange for awarding him town contracts.

In other business, selectmen discussed plans by Maine Natural Gas to build a pipeline from Windsor through Whitefield and Chelsea to Augusta.

The pipeline section through Chelsea will be 2 miles long along Route 17. The town will receive taxes on the pipeline, he said.

Tilton told selectmen he received an email from Ken Young, executive director of the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, sent to municipal officials throughout the region.

Maine Gas was selected by the state over Summit Utilities to serve state property in the Augusta area, with the potential for expansion if there's demand, while the Summit plan would stretch from Augusta to Madison.

Young said in his email that Maine Gas's proposal is limited in scope, covering less area and providing natural gas to fewer customers.

"He's a little disappointed that Summit didn't get approval to provide a pipeline to the area," Tilton said. "... There's nothing we can do. There's nothing we should do."

Mechele Cooper -- 621-5663

mcooper@centralmaine.com

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