CHESTERVILLE — Selectmen on Thursday night set a 2017 tax rate of $17.30 per $1,000 of property valuation and approved new hours at the Town Office.

Selectmen last month had tabled setting the tax rate pending the outcome of the third referendum on a Regional School Unit 9 budget. The budget failed, for the third time, and another referendum vote is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Town assessor Bill Van Tuinen of Madison said selectmen can legally commit taxes before the school budget is set.

“It’s getting late in the year. You can commit based on the last budget approved at the most recent district meeting,” he said.

Van Tuinen said Chesterville’s total valuation base is $95.76 million. Appropriations include $929,000 for the town, $939,000 for education and $121,500 for the county. Total appropriations are $1.99 million.

Allowable deductions of $363,800 leave $1.62 million to be raised by taxes.  Van Tuinen said a tax rate of $17.30 would raise $1.65 million and provide an overlay of $30,500. 

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“The expanded Homestead Exemption from $15,000 to $20,000 this year will result in a reduction in taxes for qualifying individuals. People with second homes, apartment houses or parcels of land don’t have the benefit of the exemption,” he said.

Selectman Matt Welch asked if Van Tuinen was comfortable with a rate of $17.30.

“You’re committing taxes two months later. It will help catch up,” Van Tuinen said.

Selectman Edward Hastings IV said, “You’re suggesting 32 cents more than the minimum tax rate. That’s not even halfway to the maximum. It’s being conservative while giving us a little bit more.”

The rate of $17.30 is an increase of 52 cents over last year’s rate.

Treasurer Erin Norton said residents can call to get the exact amount owed for 2017 taxes. A check can be mailed, taxes paid when the office is open or by credit card online to receive the 3 percent discount approved by voters. It will take time for the bills to be mailed out.

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At the annual town meeting, voters set Dec. 14 as the due date for taxes. Seven percent interest will be charged beginning Friday, Dec. 15.

In other business, Board of Selectmen Chairman Tyler Jenness and Hastings approved new hours for the Town Office effective Monday, Oct. 23. Selectman Matt Welch, the only other selectman present, abstained.

The vote had been tabled several times because the full board wasn’t available. 

Before the vote Hastings said, “I’m supportive as long as Pam (Griswold, town clerk) and Rachel (Heseltine, deputy town clerk) are agreeable.”

Welch said the vote had been tabled pending an open discussion with the public and time for the full board to discuss it.

Hastings said, “The community was made aware that it was going to be discussed at a meeting I couldn’t attend. If we do this, the office will be open more.”

The new hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m Thursday. The office is closed Mondays. 

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