MEXICO – A Budget Committee member suggested at Wednesday’s selectmen’s meeting that the board look into a recently passed state law that allows older residents to work off a portion of their property taxes.

Town Manager John Madigan said Thursday that Marge Richard made the proposal that would allow people age 60 and older to earn up to $750 annually toward their total property tax assessment.

Madigan said a few towns have developed a plan to allow some portion of taxes to be worked off, but right now, for Mexico, he doesn’t believe it would work.

“Who’s going to pay for it? There’s no way we would reduce employees,” he said.

As proposed under LD 2202, older residents would work at the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, up to 103 hours.

“This would cost the town $22,500 for 30 residents,” he said. “We would have to raise the budget.”

He said no employees could be replaced with someone working 103 hours. Also, he added, many municipal jobs require special skills, such as truck driving certification and police officer training, and some must be bonded.

Selectmen will receive a copy of the new state law at their next meeting Oct. 22, and will take the suggestion from there.

If a volunteer program was to go into effect, Madigan said the town’s Planning Board would be required to draw up an ordinance that must be approved by residents.

In other matters Wednesday, Madigan said work on the replacement of the Thad White Bridge that connects Mexico with Dixfield is scheduled to begin on Oct. 2. He said a private road, Partridge Lane, is nearly ready to accept travel by residents living in that area and construction traffic.

The board and the Budget Committee are working to develop questions that will go to a straw poll during the Nov. 4 election. Those questions will ask people how they feel about the level of service provided by town departments and provide guidance for the 2009 municipal budget.

Madigan said a similar poll was taken in June 2007 that showed an average of 70 percent of people were satisfied with services.

The Budget Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the town office.

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