PERU – Residents packed the selectmen’s meeting Monday night to hear what assessor Bob Gingas had to say about raising property taxes.

Gingas said a tentative assessment would be a 20 percent increase in property taxes across the board; a 60 percent increase on land not on the water; and a 25 percent increase for land on the water.

Gingas said the 2005 state valuation for Peru is at 78 percent of fair market value, which is well below the required 90 percent. He also said property values are going up especially around lakes. He said it’s occurring so fast that valuations would have to be done every year to keep up. However, he thinks if the 2006 assessments go up the amount he is projecting, Peru should be able to go 10 years without another revaluation, which cost between $65,000 to $70,000.

David Clement told the board they should be more open with the public and publicize tax increases. He said the reason people around the pond were so upset was because the increase this year hit them without warning.

Board Chairman Bill Hine said they also want to change the date of collecting taxes to Aug. 1 this year instead of September. The school assessment from the town has to be paid monthly starting in July, and the town has to start collecting the money from taxes earlier.

Paul Parent asked if basements would be counted as living space.

Gingas said only if they were finished.

Steve Gallant said many people around the Worthley Pond are on a fixed income, and they may have to sell because they can’t afford higher taxes.

Gingas said there was limited help except with homestead and veterans exemptions.

Clement asked if the town was considering collecting taxes twice a year.

Hine said it has not beet decided yet, and it would be costly for mailing.

Clement advised both bills could be sent in the same envelope, and Town Clerk Vera Parent confirmed that.

Discussion followed on the proposed boat launch by the Maine Department Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Hine informed residents that Rick Baker from the department will be at the site at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 27, to discuss the project. The department proposes to construct a boat launch for public use 12 feet wide and extending approximately 85 feet beyond the normal low water mark.

Clement said the Worthley Pond Association had tried to find other sites around the pond and none were available. He encouraged the board not to walk away from the boat launch. He reminded the board that the only place launching was available was from the private beach and the town legally only had walking access to that. He said there would be no place at all for boats if the owners chose not to allow launching.

In 1928 the beach was deeded for crossing only.

Clement said the association had originally been against the boat launch but felt members would change their minds at this year’s annual meeting. The state will not continue to stock the lake without public access.

The board approved a letter to be sent to the department asking for a review of the cooperative agreement signed by the town for the boat launch and for expected cost for the town’s upkeep.