LIVERMORE — Selectpersons in a special meeting Tuesday night, Sept. 7, accepted George Sansoucy Associates’ recommendation on the valuation of Eagle Creek’s hydroelectric power generator.

They also discussed how the tax rate could be affected by the amount of undesignated funds used. The tax rate is expected to be set at the Sept. 14 meeting.

“With the changing renewable energy and electric markets, (Eagle Creek) asked that everything be reviewed, especially due to a couple of their hydros having a lot of deferred maintenance that they discovered after they purchased the hydros from Verso,” assessing agent Paul Binette said.

“The assessors made an informed conclusion reached through the guidance and input of national experts,” he noted. “Not only is George Sansoucy a licensed appraiser, he is also a licensed engineer.”

Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls each contributed $5,000 to hire George Sansoucy Associates of Lancaster, New Hampshire, in August to do an appraisal on two facilities in Jay and one each in the other two towns.

The total valuation prior to any exemptions in 2020 was close to $62.7 million, Binette said. The total recommended value this year is $45.1 million, with $21.4 million the value for the one in Livermore, he noted. “Some hydros took steep changes in value while some did not.”

Last year, the facility in Livermore was valued at $23.3 million.

“Otis (in Livermore) didn’t take as much of a hit as some of the other ones so it doesn’t affect us as much as the other towns,” Selectperson Scott Richmond said. “It’s a good thing for us but not so good for them.”

Livermore Falls selectmen got a report later that night on the value of the facility there.

All four hydroelectric facilities were purchased in 2016 by Eagle Creek, based in New Jersey, from Verso Corp. for nearly $62 million. Ontario Power Generation of Canada acquired dozens of Eagle Creek hydroelectric facilities in 2018. The company kept the Eagle Creek Renewable Energy name and management team at the time.

Other decisions are necessary before setting the tax rate, Binette said. If no money is taken from the undesignated fund balance the tax rate will go up $1 over last year’s rate of $15.25, he noted.

“That will leave an overlay of $51,000 which is typically around what your overlay has been,” Binette said. Last year there was a low overlay of $17,000, he noted. Tax abatements, which are taken out of overlay, were about $2,000, he added.

Some of the numbers used to determine the tax rate last year were wrong, Binette said. Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller had the auditor double check his work, who said the math was sound, he noted.

“It was the previous math that was incorrect,” Binette said. “I can’t explain what happened to the budget numbers I was fed last year or the year before.”

The auditor said the value increase was lighter than it should have been, which in the end was a benefit to Livermore taxpayers, he noted.

Maine Municipal Association recommends never letting the undesignated fund balance go below what is needed to pay all the town bills for three months, Binette said. He added auditor Ron Smith said $150,000 could be taken from the fund and still stay in the safe zone.

Selectperson Scott Richmond asked to have figures available for a 75 cent increase in the tax rate.

Sept. 14 Binette was to have printed scenarios showing what the tax rate would be depending on amounts of undesignated funds and overlay used.

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