OXFORD — Taxpayers will see a $1.50 increase in the tax rate for fiscal 2018.

Selectmen on Thursday voted unanimously to set the rate at $14.70 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That means a $150 increase on a home valued at $100,000.

Last year, the rate was $13.20, the first increase in 12 years.

Selectmen said this fiscal year’s tax rate increase was offset by transferring $445,000 from the Fund Balance, which is the town’s surplus money account.

Town Manager Butch Asselin compared the Fund Balance to a savings account for the town and said despite the transfer, the town’s Fund Balance is still in good shape.

“It benefits taxpayers but doesn’t hurt the town financially,” he said of the board’s action.

School Administrative District 17 board Chairman Ron Kugell of Oxford asked if the $99,447.77 the town is getting from extra state aid given to SAD 17 was part of the deliberation in offsetting a tax rate increase.

Selectmen said that money was also considered in the calculations.

The SAD 17 board of directors recently voted to reduce Oxford’s assessment by $99,447.77, or 19.16 percent, of its annual bill. The money is part of an overall $524,513.57 in additional funds the district received from the state this summer. Many of the eight district towns had already set their tax rate when they found out about the extra money.

The return will be in the form of reduced monthly assessments paid to SAD 17, rather than a check for $99,447.77 to the town.

In other action, selectmen voted 4-1 to table the appointment Mark Blaquiere to serve the remainder of one of three, three-year terms on the Planning Board.

The five-member Planning Board was reduced to two full members, with no alternates available, after three full members resigned within the past month.

The board unanimously appointed Stuart Synder to fill one of the three-year terms.

A resident asked why Blaquiere’s appointment was tabled and Chairman Pete Laverdiere said appointments are at the discretion of the selectmen.

“We felt it needed to be tabled and this is what we did,” he said. “That’s the explanation you’re going to get.”

Blaquiere was fired from the Fire Department in June because surveillance video showed that he and another firefighter had broken into the office and packed up the former chief’s personal items, according to town documents. 

Blaquiere was the only person to volunteer for one of the Planning Board seats, as of last week. It is unclear when Synder offered to take a seat. 

Gerald Nicklaus resigned from the Planning Board two weeks ago. It followed those of Chairman Stuart Davis on Aug. 11 and Dennis Fournier on Aug. 14, just days after the two cast dissenting votes in a controversial 3-2 approval of the town’s third and final marijuana grow permit on Aug. 10.

Planning Board alternates Dana Dillingham and Denise Landsperg were elevated to full members this summer.

Also Thursday, selectmen appointed Lori Hart to the Recreation Committee for the remainder of a three-year-term and Sharon Chammings to the Budget Committee for the remainder of a three-year term.

Asselin was appointed tax collector, treasurer, road commissioner, public access officer and general assistance administrator for the town.

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