MECHANIC FALLS — The Town Council set the property tax rate at $17.40 per $1,000 of property valuation Monday night.

That’s 90 cents lower than last year’s $18.30 rate. It had been $18.90 for three years before that, Town Manager John Hawley said.

“Our taxes haven’t gone up in six or seven years, but the services we provide have gone down,” Hawley said. He cautioned that this may be the last year the town is able to hold the line on property taxes.

In the middle of the last tax year, the state announced it was cutting the amount of municipal revenue sharing.

Hawley noted that in response to that and to falling excise tax revenues, Mechanic Falls reduced office hours from the beginning of February through the end of June. While drastic, the efforts did permit the town to end the fiscal year with a modest balance.

“We continue to hear that Augusta may make deeper cuts in revenue sharing and then there’s the vote on excise taxes,” Hawley said.

If voters in November approve recommended changes in vehicle excise taxes, Mechanic Falls will lose about $400,000 a year, he said.

This year’s tax bills are expected to go out before the end of August.

In his report to the council, Hawley credited former transfer station manager Bob Abbott with setting up a system whereby the town achieved a 65 percent recycling rate of its solid waste, well above the state recommended average of 50 percent.

Abbott said that the real thanks should go to the residents of the town.

“The percentage converts to dollars. The higher the rate, the more money in our pockets,” Abbot said.

In other business, the council appointed Michelle Emery to the Recreation Committee, approved a victualer’s license for Adam Baroudi for the Route 121 Trading Post and rejected a plan to charge residents a fee for using public notary services at the Town Office.

Councilors decided not to implement a tree-harvesting plan for the town’s wood lot this year and tabled, pending more information, resident Jeremy Callahan’s request to hold a fundraiser for lights for the Jerry Coleman ball field on town property Sept. 12. At issue was the plan for a beer tent.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 8.


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