SKOWHEGAN — Sappi Fine Paper North America executives say they don’t think the tax valuation set Monday for its Skowhegan paper mill is a fair assessment and say the mill still is overvalued by the town.

The Skowhegan Board of Assessors on Monday set the value of the mill on U.S. Route 201 at slightly more than $463 million — a reduction from the previous assessment of $567 million.

The board also raised the municipal tax rate, from $16.40 for every $1,000 in property valuation to $17.15, meaning a family with a home valued at $100,000 will pay $75 more in taxes than it did last year.

It also means that Sappi, the town’s biggest taxpayer, will now pay about $7.94 million to the town in taxes, or about 48 percent of the town’s total property tax revenue.

Last year Sappi paid $9.3 million in taxes, or 53 percent of the total.

“Sappi is reviewing the outcome of yesterday’s Board of Assessors valuation,” Mark Hittie, Sappi director of marketing and communication, said Tuesday. “Sappi appreciates the time and effort invested in this process by the Board of Assessors and Skowhegan officials and remains hopeful that an appropriate settlement can be reached to address the overvaluation of Sappi’s property in Skowhegan.

“A fair valuation is necessary for Sappi’s Skowhegan mill to compete nationally and globally in this very challenging industry.”

Skowhegan Town Manager Christine Almand said Tuesday that the tax rate has been set and tax bills will go out within the week. She said if the paper company does not think the town’s valuation is fair, it can file for a tax abatement within the next six months.

“The valuation of the mill that was set through the process yesterday will be reflected on their tax bill,” Almand said Tuesday. “They will be taxed based on the valuation set by the Board of Assessors.”

The matter also could end up in court.

Assessors on Monday would not predict whether the paper company will challenge the new figures, but they noted that voters agreed at Town Meeting to use $300,000 to pay for court and attorney fees if a challenge is mounted.

The revision of the paper mill’s assessment was completed by the town’s assistant to the Board of Assessors, Bill Van Tuinen, after Sappi earlier this year requested a reduction in valuation so the company’s taxes could be lower. Van Tuinen said the paper company has not asked for an abatement on taxes already paid.

He said the basis for Sappi’s request for reconsideration of the mill’s tax value was spurred by reduced demand for printing paper.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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