Turner voters reject $200K for tax revaluation project

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TURNER — Turner residents said no to a tax revaluation proposal of nearly $200,000 at the annual town meeting on Saturday morning.

The initiative would have cost the town $199,000 over the next two years. Article 35 asked the town to set aside $42,000 for the project, which was designed to ensure property taxes are being equitably assessed.

John E. O’Donnell & Associates’ original estimate to complete the project was $205,000. The company later agreed to lower the price to $199,000, provided they were also given the town’s mapping business.

Selectman Chairman Kurt Youland said, “Some people’s taxes will probably up a little, some people’s taxes will probably go down a little, most people’s taxes will probably stay the same.”

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Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake, R-Turner, suggested the town should not commit to the project until the town has the funds to pay for the entire amount.

“If our evaluation goes up, the state is going to cut the amount of money they send the town of Turner through revenue sharing, through our school-funding formula, through everything we do,” he said. “It’s all based on our evaluation.”

School Administrative District 52 Directors Peter Ricker and Betsy Bullard agreed that revaluation would increase Turner’s portion of the school board budget. Ricker said he believed tax rates would go up.

Article 37, which would have provided $6,000 toward a Fourth of July fireworks celebration, was voted down, 38-43. This was the only vote of the meeting that required a count.

Article 46 to impose a 180-day renewable moratorium on retail marijuana establishments passed.

At Friday’s municipal election, voters:

* Elected Warren Hood as selectman for a three-year term, replacing recently retired Ralph Caldwell. Hood received 83 votes.

* Re-elected Elizabeth (Betsy) Bullard as director of School Administrative District 52 for a three-year term with 82 votes.

* Elected Ronald Blake and Megan Ricker to the Budget Committee for a three-year term, along with Brody Youland, who was elected by 18 write-in votes.

Turner finished 2016 in the black, and the municipal budget did not increase, at $2.6 million, just a small amount less than last year’s budget.

The finalization of the SAD 52 budget is the driving force behind a tax increase for fiscal year 2018, but the impact was minimized. One scenario was a 5.7 percent increase in Turner’s portion.

Bullard announced that there will only be a 4.7 percent increase in the town’s portion, meaning that the tax bill on a $150,000 property will increase by about $103.

During a half-hour recess, Town Manager Kurt Schaub and Youland presented four options for renovating the Boofy Quimby Memorial Center. The discussion was not a part of the town meeting since it did not appear on the warrant, but was an informal interaction to find out the will of the town.

In a non-binding straw poll, residents overwhelmingly favored the fourth option, which would not reduce parking spaces, and would utilize a ramp to address the accessibility issue, and add a kitchen area and a community room. A new fire station would also be built on the property.

A total of 97 residents attended. Resident Ike Goodwin served as moderator.

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