Fire Chief Aaron Gordon speaks about purchasing a new firetruck Monday night, March 13, during the annual Town Meeting in Chesterville. The measure to fund a new truck failed. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

CHESTERVILLE — For the first time in years, paying property taxes early will not result in a discount.

After much debate, voters at annual Town Meeting Monday, March 13, said no to the discount.

A 3% discount had been given to those who paid real estate taxes in full within 30 days of the mailing of tax bills. This year, the measure would have included raising and appropriating $42,000 to cover the cost, with any overdrafts coming from overlay.

“It’s an unfair tax, really,” Treasurer Erin Norton said. The discount was established when the town needed to generate money quickly, she noted. It’s unethical, people who can’t pay are stuck, she stated.

The discount isn’t actually 3% because the entire tax commitment is $42,000 more, Norton said. The biggest taxpayers in Chesterville are NECEC and CMP, are benefitting the most, she stated.

Resident Ira Hall asked for a rough percentage of the $38,000 raised for the discount last year that went to corporations.


The valuation was more than $1 million, a really big tax bill, Norton replied.

Town Clerk Melissa “Missy” Letarte said the discount saved CMP just under $5,000 last year.

Newly elected selectperson Anne Lambert said she had not supported the discount in the past, does now. If the discount ended, the $42,000 not spent would be spent somewhere else, she stated.

Norton said she has worked with Chesterville’s poorest population to get back taxes paid up. When she started working for the town [in 2017] unpaid taxes in the annual report dated back to 2004, now it’s 2018, she noted.

“We no longer need this article,” Norton added.

“I am 77 years old,” Carroll Corbin, whose term on the select board ended Monday, said. “I pay my taxes on time. I want my $54.”


One resident asked if money would need to be borrowed if there was no longer an incentive to pay taxes early.

“Very unlikely,” Norton responded. She indicated she is treasurer in two other towns, neither offers discounts and tax anticipation notes aren’t needed.

Anne Lambert and Eric Hilton, center take the oath of office after the annual Town Meeting at David Archer Town Hall in Chesterville. Moderator Paul Mills of Farmington administers the oath. Lambert and Hilton were elected to one-and three-year seats respectively on the Board of Selectpersons. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Voters also defeated a measure to use Fire Department Capital Reserve and borrow enough funds to purchase and equip a replacement truck for Engine 1 with the total not to exceed $450,000. The vote was 18 in favor with 21 opposed.

Chesterville has a small population, it’s roads can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s hard to think about putting that much money towards this, Eric Hilton, newly elected selectperson, said. He suggested grants be looked into to be able to buy a truck without increasing taxes.

Earlier in the meeting increasing the tax levy limit was defeated. If all higher budget amounts were approved, not including the truck, there would be $27,000 still available before the limit would be reached, Norton said. Doing away with the tax payment discount provided $42,000 more to work with.

The truck purchase is being asked for differently than voters are used to, it would be the same as highway trucks were obtained by auction, Fire Chief Aaron Gordon said. Vehicles are gone in a week or two, getting approval for purchase through a special town meeting takes a month, he noted. He didn’t anticipate spending the entire $450,000.


Engine 1 was purchased 25 years ago, the longer replacing it is held off, the lower its value will be, Gordon stated. Lack of newer safety features on the truck mean a firefighter must be near the truck on calls, the department has seven active members, he noted. While Engine 1 has low miles on it, exposure to salt and difficulty keeping it charged are issues, he said. “You are asking a 25 year old truck to be effective immediately,” he added.

Not passing the article would make the town reactive rather than proactive, putting the town and the fire department at a disadvantage, Selectperson Tim LeSiege said. “It’s better to be proactive,” he stated.

Debt service is retiring – on the department’s squad and a highway truck – next year, Le Siege said.

The truck search would be from a part of the country where salt isn’t an issue, Gordon said. It would have to be pump certified for Maine before it could be purchased, he noted.

Corbin spoke of plow trucks the town had purchased that were sidelined with mechanical issues afterwards.

The fire department’s fleet has been lowered from five to three, there are times there aren’t people to respond to calls, Conley Gould, a member of the department said. “There are a lot of benefits to this truck,” he stated. A new truck isn’t feasible, one all decked out would cost $1.2 million, there’s no guarantee a used truck with the desired specifications could be found this year, he noted.


“I would like to vote this down, look at where we can get the money,” Selectperson Linda Bauer said. Selectpersons didn’t see the article until after the warrant went to press, had to find a way to get it in, she said. People are being asked to vote without needed information, she added.

If a truck were found, the purchase would be brought to selectpersons for approval, Gordon said.

The $450,000 is not being authorized from this year’s budget, LeSiege stressed. If it works out, debt service would start next year, he noted.

Norton said with no figure, calculations towards the tax levy limit weren’t possible. If no debt service payment is created this year there would be no affect on the limit, she added.

In other votes:

An amendment to raise $10,000 for Fire Department Capital Reserve resulted in a 20-20 tie meaning the amendment did not prevail, Moderator Paul Mills said. Lambert said the budget committee recommended the lower amount to reduce taxes. Money would be saved in the long run, the more that is put away now, Gould said. The $30,000 recommended by selectpersons was then approved.


An amendment to remove “or benefit the town in such other ways as the select board deems reasonable” from an article on accepting gifts, grants and other funds failed after it was noted such funds would have to go towards lowering taxes, tied the select board’s hands and could cost the town money. Not being able to use grant funds obtained to work on roads,  and needing to hold special town meetings to approve use of funds for other uses than lowering tax commitment were two examples given.

The $20,000 recommended for Public Works Capital Reserve was approved. Resident Scott Gray said he knew that number couldn’t be increased but more should be appropriated, was something to think of in the future. Bauer noted $30,000 had been requested, selectpersons lowered the amount.

Entering a 15-year contract with CMP to convert streetlights to appropriate and safe LED bulbs passed 25 to 16. Hilton said that was a long time, that LED lights aren’t safe, affect people’s health. Resident Paul Stancioff said there was little evidence to support those claims, changing would significantly lower energy costs and LEDs are much more controllable. LeSiege estimated annual savings of $1,500 by switching, that if not approved CMP would replace current sodium lights with LEDs as those bulbs break or stop working.

In other matters, Lambert was presented a Legislative Sentiment from Rep. Scott Landry and State Senator Russell Black on receiving the Spirit of America Award for her work in the community. Bruce Driscoll recognized outgoing Highway Committee member Sarah Baker.

Following the meeting, Hilton and Lambert were sworn in to the Board of Selectpersons.


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