LIVERMORE FALLS — If selectmen make no changes and take the town’s assessing agent’s recommendation, taxpayers here could be looking at at a tax rate hike of nearly $4 per $1,000 of valuation.

That means for a house valued at $100,000, the homeowner would see about a $400 increase in taxes, not factoring in the Homestead Exemption. It would be nearly a 21 percent increase in taxes, assessing agent Bill Van Tuinen said Monday.

However, selectmen vowed Monday to scrutinize anticipated revenue and expense figures and the municipal budget as well as a recommendation to decrease Wausau Paper’s personal property valuation by about $6 million before they set the rate.

The paper mill closed its doors in June. One paper machine was shut down before April 1 and the other was shut down afterward. Both machines are still on the property.

Even if selectmen don’t accept Van Tuinen’s recommendation to reduce the mill’s value, that would still mean an increase in the tax rate.

The hike would be due to lower anticipated revenues of about $342,346, $138,495 or 5.38 percent increase in the municipal budget, $135,442.42 or 8.61 percent increase in the school budget, and $639.99 or .39 percent increase in the Androscoggin County budget.

The net amount of commitment necessary, as it stands, is $3.68 million, a $616,923.41 or 20.09 percent increase in taxes.

Van Tuinen said it was up to selectmen to make the decision. He has recommended the decrease in Wausau’s valuation with the possibility mill officials may appeal the assessment, he said. The paper industry is not faring well in the economy, he said.

Van Tuinen also factored in a request to have an office building that Franklin Memorial Hospital leases on Union and Pleasant streets be exempted from taxes.

Resident and landlord Ken Jacques said the town could not afford to give the mill a break in its valuation. He also said taxpayers could not afford an increase property taxes. That was echoed by businessman John Ross.

Jacques also suggested town officials look at services offered such as dispatch and the transfer station and make some cuts.

“We need to buckle down,” Jacques said.

He also recommended school consolidation be reviewed more closely. It is not feasible to graduate about 40 seniors from each of the Livermore Falls and Jay high schools when they are only two miles apart, he said.

Selectman Bill Demaray said they would need to make sure they have accurate revenue figures and are not underestimating them.

There is nothing he hates more, he said, than raising taxes and at the end of the year putting a large amount of money that wasn’t needed in surplus.

“We really need to look at the figures,” Demaray said. “We need to look at the revenues to see if we’re being a little too cautious.”

Chairwoman Louise Chabot said they could also revisit the budget.

Van Tuinen said if the reduction to Wausau’s property tax is approved, then selectmen would have to choose a rate between a minimum of $22.38 per $1,000 of valuation and a maximum of $23.49. The current tax rate is $18.80. He suggested $22.60, which would give the town an overlay of $37,066.15.

If the board doesn’t give a decrease to Wausau, the rate would have to be between a minimum of $21.62 and maximum of $22.70. If the rate was set at $21.80, it would be a $3 increase in the rate. That would equal about $300 more on a $100,000 home.

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