CANTON — Residents approved appropriating $217,146 from town revenue monies in order to reduce town taxes during a special meeting held before the selectmen’s meeting on Thursday,

Among the 11 revenue items included were $150,000 for automobile and boat excise taxes, $15,000 for tree growth reimbursement and $29,650 from Hartford for fire protection.

Planning Board Secretary Diane Ray asked the selectmen how much total tax debt they are anticipating offsetting this year, percentage-wise, and was told by Selectman Scotty Kilbreth that although he did not, “have the figures right in front of me, but $32,000 (amount) was supposed to go to the Community Benefit Fund, so, we are taking that $32,000 and just going to use the $217,146 to offset taxes.”

During Town Meeting in June, the town approved revenues to reduce the tax commitment, but the Community Benefit Fund monies should not have been included in the amount. Selectman Brian Keene said, “Basically it’s just making a correction to move that $32,000 back to the fund where it should be.”

Residents also approved the appropriation of $150,000 from an undesignated fund balance to offset property taxes. Town resident Rene Ouellette asked the selectmen how much money will be left in the undesignated fund this year after $150,000 is used to offset property taxes.

Kilbreth replied, “It’s over a million right now.”

In other business, the selectmen voted to keep the town’s property tax rate for fiscal year 2021-22 the same as it was last year; $17.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

“My only concern is that’s only $17,000 worth of overlay. I’m fine with it; that’s my only concern,” said Keene regarding the proposed mill rate.

When asked by residents to explain the term “overlay,” Kilbreth somewhat jokingly said, “We are allowed to overtax you by 5%.”

Keene explained, “So, what the overlay is used for is, it varies, if there is issues or mistakes in the tax bills and things, (for example) so for reimbursements; anything like that, that we (selectmen) have to do.”

In another matter, Code Enforcement Officer Scott Mills and Health Officer Donna Hebert gave the selectmen an update on the conditions of homes on three properties that were subjects of residents’ complaints at prior selectmen’s meetings recently. A property on Golden Ridge Road and two properties on Hayford Court were discussed.

Hebert said the property on Golden Ridge Road had a hole in the roof that, “is just getting bigger, and so, the water is just pouring in there. So, it’s got to be rotting everything inside.”

As for the two properties on Hayford Court, Hebert recommended that the trailer be removed and a dumpster on one of the properties also be removed.

“I’d pay what’s owed on it and have Archie’s (dumpster services) come and get it because obviously, they’re not going to pay the bill,” he said. “And with the trailer drawing rats, rodents, cats, feral cats, that dumpster is just contributing to (the mess).”

Mills said that their options to resolve the properties’ problems, according to the sheriff’s office, were that they would need a court order to enter the property on Golden Ridge Road so that they could take photos of the health and safety issues in the building. For the properties on Hayford Court, Mills prepared draft letters to the property owners given to the selectmen for consideration. Mills’ letters requested the owners remove a mobile home from one property and to “bring the property into compliance” on the other property.

Canton Health Officer Donna Hebert, right rear, spoke about three properties with complaints of trash, rats and feral cats’ infestations along with Code Enforcement Officer Scott Mills (not pictured) during the selectmen’s meeting on Thursday. Seated beside Hebert are residents Robyn McClintock and Paul McKenna. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

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