LISBON — The first half of Councilor Roger Cote’s property taxes came due this week and he didn’t pay.

He’s telling townspeople who call to gripe about their bills not to pay, either.

“They’re going to give us answers, or they’re going to go without money,” Cote said Wednesday.

The third-year councilor is upset about a new town budget that he says was sprung on the Town Council too quickly and raised property taxes for some. His own bill shot up $500. His neighbor’s taxes increased by $1,000. Cote said he’s heard from people whose taxes went up as much as $3,000.

“I’ve got 27 messages on my phone just today,” he said. “Every councilor is in the same boat. (Residents) are mad.”

Town Manager Steve Eldridge said the council chairman had called a special meeting for Friday, but Eldridge declined to comment beyond that.


Cote, one of seven councilors, said he’s protesting a lack of information and clarity from town leadership. Budget details, he said, came too near the final vote, leading him to be the lone dissenter.

While the tax rate this year decreased — from $25.50 to $21.60 — the town brought up its valuation, which lifted the value of some properties and increased those tax bills.

“It’s just killing everybody,” Cote said. “What I would like to see is the town get audited from an outside firm. If we knew we had some kind of financial problems and we knew in advance, we could have broken the ice throughout the year. (Instead), ‘it’s uh-oh, we’re in trouble.’”

Cote said he was one of several councilors to ask for a special meeting to talk out the issues. He posted a letter on the website that begins:

“Dear Lisbon Residents,

I am writing to you in hopes that you have had enough of the crap that has been allowed to permeate our community.”


Friday’s public meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. in the Town Council chambers.

A state official warned that withholding property taxes, even in protest, isn’t penalty-free.

Mike Rogers, supervisor of municipal services at Maine Revenue Services, said eventual repercussions include interest owed on the amount not paid and, eight months out, a notice of an impending lien on the property.

“It’s very bad advice on (Cote’s) part,” Rogers said.

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