MADISON — A new police cruiser is in limbo — despite residents’ pleas — until the town knows what will happen to the paper mill tax assessment.

The board of selectmen voted unanimously to put a decision to buy a new police cruiser on hold Monday night until the Madison Paper Industries assessment is done in August.

On June 3 the board approved putting a hold on discretionary spending after July 1, saying it is likely that a property tax break for the mill, which makes up about 40 percent of the town’s tax base, could result in either higher taxes or cuts to services.

“I honestly don’t know what will happen with the (tax) rate and the valuation of the mill,” said Selectmen Chairman Al Veneziano Monday night. “It’s probably not going to be pretty.”

Veneziano said the town manager asked the police cruiser be approved and the the purchase be put on hold until after the assessment is done in August. “We’d have to think about it because there might be other things that that might happen to,” Veneziano said.

Residents at Monday’s meeting reiterated their support for the Town Meeting decision to spend more money on the police department, including a proposed $29,500 for the police cruiser, with several residents asking the board to make the purchase now.

“We can’t do it,” said resident Richard Zazulia, 53. “We’re asking you to do it now, to put it to rest so we can go home and feel safe tonight.”

Town Meeting voters June 9 approved a $574,721 budget for police, which included about $25,000 to prevent the elimination of a full-time secretary position at the department.

That stayed intact Monday night after selectmen proposed hiring a position for 25 hours.

Michael Edgerly, newly elected to the board and at his first meeting, made a motion to hire a full-time administrative assistant for the department. It passed 4-1 with Selectman Paul Fortin opposed.

Debate over the police department budget lasted about an hour and a half.

The select board also made annual appointments including appointing Veneziano as chairman of the board and Jack Ducharme as vice chairman.

Shawn Howard, a captain for the Skowhegan Fire Department, was appointed fire chief following the retirement of longtime chief Roger Lightbody. Howard will continue his Skowhegan duties.

This is a corrected version of this story.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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