STRONG — Selectmen approved a tax rate decrease for 2016 at their Tuesday night meeting.

Taxpayers will see a decrease from last year’s $14.70 per $1,000 of property valuation to this year’s $14.20 per $1,000. For a home valued at $100,000, the taxpayer will owe $1,420, compared to $1,470 in 2015.

Although selectmen are designated as assessors, they rely on Assessors Agent Robert Worthley for the annual calculations of revenues, the town’s commitment to Franklin County, Regional School Unit 58, and the costs to run the town.

At the March town meeting, voters approved taking more from surplus this year for paving projects, but the school district’s budget will cost the town less.

Revenue and expense categories vary from year to year, Worthley said. Taxpayers shouldn’t expect this year’s lower costs to be a trend, because costs of goods and services haven’t declined, he said. The town also should prepare for any unexpected expenditures.

“A reduction in the tax rate, with everything else being equal, tends to be kind of temporary,” Worthley said. “I understand one or two (expense) lines are a little tight, so you may be looking at a special town meeting before the year is over for some unforeseen expenses.”

Tax bills will be mailed at the end of August.

In other business, selectmen voted 3-2 not to allow the Maine Department of Transportation to use Chandler Road during the Route 4 reconstruction project in 2017.

MDOT is scheduled to rebuild Route 4 from the intersection at the southern end of Chandler Road to the north end of the town line near the Country Delight Dairy Bar.

Selectman Dick Worthley said he had spoken to a representative of the MDOT, who hoped that Chandler Road could be reopened for through traffic to ease congestion for drivers going north toward Phillips or south toward Farmington. 

The road had been made a dead-end several years ago because of a constant stream of traffic and vehicles often going much faster than the residential neighborhood’s speed limit. Selectmen deemed the situation a safety hazard and closed the road at the southern end.

Reed addressed selectmen about the issue, saying that he had checked facts and had not confirmed that the MDOT project would cost less and save time.

Chandler Road resident Niles Yeaton suggested that the MDOT already had a budget it planned to spend, so he couldn’t understand how the figures would be changed.

Several questioned how the town would benefit, especially with the steady traffic that would add wear and tear that the municipality would be responsible for fixing. Chandler Road resident Sandra Yeaton said there would be little the town could do to prevent large trucks from traveling the road.

In other matters, Animal Control Officer Ann Dunne said she would resign her position at the end of August. Selectmen voted to accept her resignation with regret.

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