Phillips tax rate increased; two appointed to planning board

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PHILLIPS — Selectmen on Tuesday night approved a small increase in the property tax rate for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The new rate of $21.60 per $1,000 of valuation is an increase of 80 cents over last year.

In other matters, selectmen questioned two candidates for Planning Board openings. Casey Horton, a logger and farmer, told selectmen he expects to be fair and listen to all points of view.

“I think there are some things the town needs,” he said. “I see things from both sides of the fence.”

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Peter Bourgelais, who works for an international nonprofit organization, said he was aware of some past issues but preferred to study the facts before making any comments.

“What do you think of gravel pits?” asked Selectman Ray Gaudette.

Bourgelais said he would like to research the subject before sharing his opinion.

Horton said he understood the need for construction materials being readily available without having to travel far away. Both men were appointed unanimously to the Planning Board.

Planning Board member Josh Batchelder spoke to selectmen of his concerns for future Planning Board reappointments if those board members expressed points of view that differed from those of the selectmen.

Former board member Ken Ziglar, he noted, was not reappointed because selectmen were concerned with his strong opposition in 2013 to construction of more gravel pits.

Ziglar had presented selectmen a document with arguments against approving any future gravel pits in the area in September 2013. Ziglar said approving more gravel pits wouldn’t benefit the town’s economy. He said theydo not create jobs, and the truck traffic would create the potential for long-term road damage.

Town Manager Elaine Hubbard addressed Batchelder’s concerns, saying that a resident who holds a public office must be aware that stating personal opinions publicly about such issues could present a bias that would prevent that person from making an evenhanded decision on behalf of the community he or she represented.

“When you’re appointed to a position, you can’t say you are not saying something as a board member,” she said.

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