WEST PARIS — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously, though reluctantly, Thursday to set the tax rate at $18.90 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

It’s a an increase of $1.35 from last year’s $17.55.

“It should be noted this (increase) is not unprecedented,” Selectman Dale Piirainen said. “In 2014 the increase was $1.25.”

Board Chairman Mike Grass said, “The municipal budget is flat, it is the same as this year’s.”

Town Manager Wade Rainey pointed out that “55 percent of the town’s budget is for the Oxford County assessment and the schools.”

He said another reason for part of the increase is the lower state reimbursement for Homestead Exemptions. The reimbursed was 62.5 percent; it’s now 50 percent.

Homestead Exemptions remove the first $20,000 of assessed value from qualified real estate from taxation.

“The state is putting a real hurting on the town,” Selectman Randy Jones said.

Piirainen, expressing his frustration, said, “It is troubling that we have no control over this. I don’t know what we can do collectively.”

The board also accepted a bid from Swasey Inc. of  Andover to mow 42.9 lane miles of roadside at $230 per mile for a total of $9,867. It was the only bid submitted and, according to Rainey, it “is in line with what he did last year.”

Four bids were submitted for paving Stearns Hill Road: Allstate Asphalt for $140,984, Pike Industries of Poland for $131,690, Lane Construction Corp. for $132,478 and Bruce A. Manzer Inc. of Anson for $135,672.

After considerable discussion and calculation, Manzer was awarded the contract on a 2-1 cote, with Grass the dissenter.

Although Manzer was not the lowest bidder, “We’ve worked with him three or four times and have had good luck with him and no issues that I know of,” Jones said.

The contract calls for paving a mile of the road in West Paris and about 1,400 feet of the road in South Paris. Each town will be billed for their proportion, so the West Paris share will be 80 percent.

In other business, Melissa Green of Community Concepts gave a brief talk on home ownership classes the agency offers.

The board voted to table any decision on the Charter Communication contract.

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