LIVERMORE — Selectpersons agreed Tuesday night to use $50,000 from the undesignated fund to offset a significant increase in the property tax rate. They set the rate at $16 per $1,000 valuation, 75 cents more than last year.

The rate would mean $44,749 would be available for tax abatements. Money not used would go back into the undesignated fund.

At a special meeting Sept. 7, assessing agent Paul Binette was asked to provide tax rate scenarios based on the amount of undesignated funds used and the resulting overlay. Last year the tax rate was $15.25 per $1,000 valuation.

Binette shared three options, each using $50,000 from undesignated funds. The two not chosen were: $15.90 and an overlay of $22,192; and $16.10 and an overlay of $67,065.

Last year’s overlay was about $17,000, he said. A total of $3,068 was used for abatements, Binette noted.

Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller said there is about $1.43 million in the undesignated fund.

Livermore is in the middle of an audit.

“The auditor said you can safely take out $150,000, Binette said last week. “Maine Municipal Association recommends never letting the undesignated fund go below what you need to pay all your bills for three months.” Livermore would still be in the safe zone, he added.

In other business, Neal Goldberg from MMA gave an overview of how American Rescue Plan Act funds could be spent.

“What can we use our money for?” Selectperson Scott Richmond asked.

“It’s actually broader than it looks on paper,” Goldberg said. “It all comes down to justification.”

There are six pretty broad categories, he noted.

• Public health response: anything that will mitigate or control the pandemic or prevent the next one.

• Negative economic impact: things that will support small businesses, small families, any vulnerable community.

• Premium, essential worker pay: bonuses for staff working through the pandemic, hiring or signing bonuses.

• Broadband: any expense that will lead to a broadband project of very high speed.

• Infrastructure: water and sewer specifically.

• Revenue loss: it has the broadest uses but it is a bit complicated.

If excise taxes make up for other revenue losses it’s not a loss, Goldberg said.

Livermore is expected to receive about $200,000 once registered, he noted.

Funds have to be obligated by 2024 and spent by 2026, Goldberg said. An annual report is due Oct. 31.

“The money can go into an interest-bearing account,” Goldberg said. “You can do anything you want with the interest earned.” He recommended not spending any money until after Oct. 31 to make the first year reporting easier.

Towns across the country are getting creative on how to use the funds, Goldberg said. Farmington (Maine) is going to repair a bridge that ambulances won’t go across because of safety concerns, he noted. “It will help save lives.”

Approval of how money is spent isn’t specified. MMA is recommending going through the typical town meeting process, Goldberg said.

“Get your hands on the money,” he said. “That’s the first step. Put it into a savings account.”


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