STRONG — Selectmen approved a $1.10 mill increase in the tax rate for the 2018 fiscal year.

At their Tuesday night meeting, they increased the current rate from $14.40  to $15.50 per $1,000 of property valuation. Tax bills will be mailed in August. 

Each July, selectmen base their decision on information calculated by assessors’ agent Robert Worthley. The town is on a January-December fiscal year, but the Franklin County and the Regional School Unit 58 budgets are based on a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year. Setting the tax rate in July allows Worthley to calculate the overall impact of those two fiscal obligations on the town.

He explained to selectmen the sources of their revenues and obligations and how changes in each category can affect the town’s rate each year. In 2008, the town’s state revenue-sharing, primarily derived from sales taxes, was $143,902. In 2017, the state’s allocation to the town was $49,210, a decline of nearly $95,000. 

On the other hand, the Homestead Tax Reimbursement revenues increased over last year’s reimbursement from $48,435 to $64,226. There was good news about Strong’s municipal growth and financial health.

“We had a lot more personal property this year than I expected,” Worthley said.  

When companies grow their business and people build new houses, the tax base increases. The tax base for calculating the rate is $92 million, he said. 

“What do you foresee for next year?” asked Selectman Rodney Spiller. 

Several unknown factors could affect the tax rate, with many beyond the town’s control, Worthley said. The logging industry’s not all that healthy right now, and the long-term effects of the new federal tariffs are not yet defined.  

“Our share of the school budget is pretty steady,” Worthley said.

In other matters, Selectman Rob Elliott reported that three of the five companies he has contacted have responded with bids to pave and paint the tennis courts. 

He’s still waiting to hear from three other companies and hopes to find lower quotes. The painting and paving jobs require different bids, he said. The companies that do the painting are not locally available. 

“(The bids) range from $15,700 to $24,500 just to pave it, ” he said.  

The painting job will be close to $10,000, because the job requires specific paints made for tennis court surfaces. He’s found only two companies that do the work.

Selectman Dick Worthley suggested that the costs would have to be approved at the March 2019 town meeting. 

“We don’t even have half that,” he said.  

Voters at this year’s town meeting agreed to have selectmen investigate the costs to do the entire job, rather than selling the property or doing another repair job.  

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