POLAND — Selectmen unanimously voted Monday set the 2014-15 property tax rate at $14 per $1,000 in property value, an increase of 35 cents from the $13.65 rate for the last fiscal year, which ended June 30.

The rate will increase taxes on a property valued at $100,000 by $35.

Every selectmen expressed surprise that an increase of any amount was needed, even though they were aware that expenditures were up.

Town meeting voters appropriated nearly $290,000 more than a year ago — the RSU 16 school assessment was up $144,000 and the bill for county taxes was up more than $25,000.

Selectmen were aware that those increases were offset somewhat by an increase in other revenues, but what selectmen had really been counting on was a continuation of annual increases in the town’s tax base.

Selectman Steve Robinson said that over the past six years or so, the overall town valuation had increased by about $5 million, on average.

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Last year, the town’s valuation increased by $7.3 million.

Town Manager Bradley Plante told the board that John O’Donnell, the town’s assessor, had determined the valuation of Poland Spring Bottling Co., for tax purposes, had decreased by about $2.2 million, mostly for depreciation of the value of equipment, and Pike Industries’ valuation had fallen by $1.9 million as a result of relocating some equipment to Vermont.

“These are the numbers John O’Donnell gave me just this morning,” Plante said.

“Losing $2.3 million in valuation this year shocks me,” Robinson said of the overall net loss.

Plante pointed out that these numbers indicate just how important it will be for the board to get a firm handle on projections for future revenues coming from the Poland Spring Tax Increment Financing accounts, something the board will be discussing in next month’s workshop with O’Donnell and Ron Smith, the town’s auditor.

“We’ll have to work very, very hard to grow the tax base,” Robinson said.

Plante said bills for the first half of taxes owed will be going out within a week, with payment due by Oct. 1.


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