CARTHAGE The tax rate for the more than 400 properties owned in this small, Franklin County town declined nearly 25 percent this year, but property values increased by about 35 percent.

First Selectman Steve Brown said the board set a $17 per $1,000 tax rate on Friday, down from last years rate of $23 per $1,000 valuation.

Brown said the widening gap between assessments and sale prices for most properties necessitated the 35 percent increase in valuation so that the town can keep its state-certified 90 percent ratio.

All properties except older mobile homes and small outbuildings were assessed at the higher rate.

Because town properties are certified at 90 percent valuation, the Homestead Exemption for primary homes will be $11,700, Brown said.

He added that the town doubled the value of virtually all properties during tax year 2004-05 so that its ratio could be maintained, then added no extra value last year.

Taxes are due on Jan. 28. Those paid on Jan. 29 and thereafter, will be assessed 8 percent interest, rather than the highest 11 percent figure allowed by the state.

He said some taxes have been prepaid.

While the municipal budget has declined, Brown said the town must pay higher school and county taxes.

[email protected]