RUMFORD — After nearly 90 minutes of discussion, the Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 on Tuesday to increase the property tax rate.

The rate for 2019-20 is $30.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 75 cents from last year.

Board Chairman Chris Brennick made a motion to approve the lowest of three options, seconded by Peter Chase. Brennick, Chase and John Pepin voted for $30.50. Selectmen Mark Belanger and Frank DiConzo voted against.

The other two options were $30.65 and $30.75.

Finance Director Deb Laurinaitis said the new tax rate means a home assessed at $80,000 would be taxed $60 more for the year without a homestead exemption, and $58.40 more for the year with the exemption.

The new rate also meets the requirement of the town’s fund balance policy by maintaining a minimum balance to operate the town for two months.

Selectmen also approved the tax due dates recommended by Tax Collector Tom Bourret. They are Oct. 25 and April 1, with the 7 percent interest in effect the day after the due dates.

Rumford Police Chief Stacy Carter gives a tour for town officials on Tuesday of the renovated portion of the Police Department’s cell block, which has been converted into workstations, a kitchen and a shower for officers. From left are Selectmen John Pepin and Chris Brennick, Tax Collector Tom Bourret, Carter and Selectman Frank DiConzo. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

Before the session, town officials were given a tour by Police Chief Stacy Carter of the police station’s cell block, a portion of which was recently converted into workstations, a kitchen and a shower for officers.

The $93,550 project was recently completed by Lakeside Concrete Cutting of Newport.

Carter said the eight cells for prisoners were probably installed when the department was formed and haven’t been used for years because the department went from a 72-hour holding facility to a six-hour facility.

“Because of the change in staffing, not having a desk sergeant, we no longer really house prisoners,” he said. As a result, when an officer arrests someone who can’t make bail right away, the prisoner is taken to Oxford County Jail in South Paris.

Looking to use the estimated 200 to 300 square feet of unused space, the chief said they have retained one holding room for prisoners and created an area for workstations for three officers.

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