Rumford Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs (Rumford Falls Times file photo)
RUMFORD — The Board of Selectmen has scheduled a special town meeting for Tuesday, at which it expects to set the property tax rate for 2018-19.
The meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Rumford Falls Auditorium.
The current property tax rate is $28.85 per $1,000 of assessed value.
“There’s been negativity (over social media) around the fact we haven’t announced a mill rate yet,” Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs said. “Our finance department works very closely with our auditors. Our auditors have a certain way they want to see the year end closed out.
“We’ve been accused of fraud, stealing, embezzlement, conspiracies. … It’s ridiculous. All from people who don’t know or want to know what the truth is.”
Briggs added: “This is not a cover-up. We’re more than solvent. There’s no connection between not setting the mill rate and the downtown project. No connection at all, yet conclusions are drawn that we’re holding off on the mill rate because of a delay in the project.”
She said that she expects the new tax rate will be at least as high as last year.
Briggs said Finance Director Debbie Laurinaitis came before selectmen at a September meeting and talked about spending.
“We’re pushing back $2.593 million of the entire budget,” Briggs said. “These are designated funds. That’s almost $2.6 million that we’re carrying over, that will come off the top. Nothing was said about that. No kudos.”
She said the finance department and the Board of Assessors work hard to make sure certain guidelines are followed so that auditors, RHR Smith & Co. of Buxton, “can come in here in a day, day and a half, and get out of here.”
“We’re doing it the way they asked us to do it,” Briggs said. “It is fiscally responsible. When you look at the results of our audit, there are no actionable items in it. There’s no ‘maybe you should do it this way.’ There’s none of that because we’re doing it as the auditor would want it.
“The thing is, we could have gone to commitment in July. It wouldn’t be accurate. Do we wait and put out an accurate number? Or do we rush?”
Briggs added: “If folks are anxious about it, we’ll gladly accept a payment. If they want to make a payment, even now, we’ll accept a payment equal to what their first half was last year.”
She said there are people who want to pay on their property taxes Oct. 1.
“They have the money, and we’ll gladly take that,” Briggs said. “And if it (tax rate) goes down, and it’s unlikely, we would take it off the second payment.”