JAY – Town Manager Ruth Marden is concerned about wording on a poster circulating in town and information she is hearing related to the property revaluation.

Residents distributing the poster, Al Landry and Tom Goding, expect a lot of people to attend Monday’s selectmen’s meeting, Landry said Wednesday.

“We expect a big crowd, a lot more people than we expected say they’re going to come,” he said.

The poster asks several questions, including if Jay residents are concerned about their taxes, new valuation, tax rate and what to do if people disagree with their assessment.

The poster tells people if they have these concerns and others, join Landry and Goding for a town meeting at 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 28, at the Jay Middle School cafeteria.

There is no official town meeting that night.

“I want to make sure the public is not under the illusion that it is a town meeting,” Marden said. “It is a selectmen’s meeting. I think it would be unfair if they were under the illusion it was a town meeting.”

Marden plans to update the board on the revaluation and townspeople will have a chance to ask questions.

The poster was not produced or distributed by the town of Jay, she said.

“Some of the things they’re asking that selectmen give information on, have either been distributed or we don’t know yet,” Marden said. “I know there are citizens who would like us to take money from undesignated revenue to lower the tax rate but the fact of the matter is at this point, while we’re facing a lawsuit with Androscoggin Energy and we don’t know what the outcome would be, it would be penny-wise-and-pound-foolish to take any more money out of that fund and put us in a situation to borrow money.”

A municipality is supposed to have 25 percent of its operating money in an undesignated fund so the town won’t have to borrow money to operate during those months prior to tax bills going out, she said.

Now, Jay has about $5 million in its undesignated fund and last year’s commitment was $21 million, Marden said.

Former owners of a power plant now owned by Verso Paper have filed tax abatement requests with the town and bankruptcy court to lower the value of the plant and its equipment for fiscal 2005 and 2006 tax years.

If Androscoggin Energy gets it’s way, the town could have to repay $3.7 million to the company, though Marden doesn’t believe it will amount to that much, if the court favors the company.

“If there is a pay back, we’re hopeful that we’d be able to cover that payback without borrowing,” she said, with reimbursement money coming from the undesignated fund.

Earlier, assessing agents sat down with 220 taxpayers about new valuations, and people can still talk to agents.

People also can file for an abatement after the tax rate is committed and then take it further to the Assessment Review Board, if not satisfied.

The revaluation should not have that much of an impact on businesses looking to relocate to or develop in Jay, Marden said.

“We have one of the most attractive tax rates and we’ll continue to have a very attractive tax rate and we’re very business friendly,” she said. “I would think the only impact on businesses is a positive thing. But we cannot determine the mill rate until we get the value from the professionals on what the value is on Verso Paper’s power plant.”

The tax rate is $15.50 per $1,000 of property valuation.

Marden said she’s hoping the tax rate will be set Tuesday, Sept. 5.


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