Hanover resident Jack Kuchta speaks Tuesday at a meeting to discuss deorganizing and handing over government to Oxford County. Seventy of the approximately 259 residents attended the session in the town pavilion. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

HANOVER — Seventy residents of this small town of about 259 gathered Tuesday to hear the pros, cons and process of deorganizing its government and handing it over to Oxford County.

Jack Kuchta wanted to know if the subject had ever been raised at a Select Board meeting.

“It was brought to our attention a couple of years ago at our town meeting about going unorganized,” Town Clerk Kelly Harrington said. “I’m not sure it’s ever gone to a Select Board meeting prior to just recently.”

Former Oxford County Administrator Scott Cole told residents he was asked by selectmen to attend a meeting in June to talk about deorganization. “That led to a consulting contract, $50 an hour with no benefits to help the selectmen, as needed, with deorganization, to help the community.”

Select Board member Ed Kennett said 76% of the town’s budget goes to Regional School Unit 10 based in Rumford.

“We don’t have much control over that,” he said. “We looked around and thought about how we could fix it. We met with people in Rumford, from the state, even talked to the superintendent over in Bethel to see if we changed (school) districts.


“None of this is going to work,” Kennett said. “We could stay with the school district. We could back out of the school district and become independent. We could unincorporate.”

Hanover Selectman Ed Kennett addresses residents Tuesday on what the town pays Regional School Unit 10 in Rumford for education services. He said 76% of the town budget goes to the Rumford-based district, a consideration in whether to deorganize as a town. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

Asked what happens to town government after deorganization, Cole said, “Short answer is that it dissolves, and the various functions are farmed out.”

Asked where people would vote, Cole said probably Rumford or Bethel.

Brenda Gross, who’s served 38 years on the Select Board, said, “I think the reason we did this is because we keep looking at the school budget. We were lucky the last couple of years because the school budget didn’t really go up. It was COVID and we were getting all this money from the feds. Well, that’s kinda stopped.”

Gross continued, “I’m pretty sure that next year, when they do the school budget, our school budget is going to go up. We just don’t want to see our taxes go up two or three mills in one year, and continue to go up and up. And that it will get to the point where some of us can’t afford to live here anymore. That’s why we started looking into this because we all want to stay in this town because we know it’s a great town.”

Cole said Hanover’s tax rate of $14.75 per $1,000 of valuation would drop because the deorganized towns pay $8.47 per $1,000 of valuation.


He said a vote on whether to pursue deorganizing would be made after the annual town meeting on Oct. 18, likely sometime in November. A five-person unorganized commission, including a county commissioner, would be present to provide more information to townspeople.

Under Maine law, deorganization must be approved along a strict timeline that includes approval by the state Legislature and multiple votes at the municipal level. The process also includes a formal public hearing to take comments on the process, and a requirement that those comments be considered in the final plan.

“The final vote has to be made at a General Election in November,” Cole said, “and has to be by secret ballot, and it needs a two-thirds majority to pass. It could be whatever November the Legislature decides.”

He said the process could take up to three years.

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