SKOWHEGAN — Selectmen voted Tuesday night to postpone discussion on a possible appeal of the town’s state valuation for 2015 in light of a $100 million decrease in the value of the Sappi Fine Paper mill.

The assistant to the town’s Board of Assessors, who represented the town in talks that led to an adjustment that cut the tax value of the mill by more than $100 million, said there is hope that the town could see some relief from the state.

The state valuation is the basis of the determination of school subsidies from the state and the amount of county taxes to be paid, and it is a big part of the formula for allocating state revenue sharing, Board of Assessors assistant Bill Van Tuinen said in a letter to the town manager and the Board of Selectmen.

A higher state valuation means that more funding for education comes from local taxpayers and less from education subsidy from the state, Van Tuinen said. The town also would contribute a higher percentage of the county tax with a higher valuation and receive less in state municipal revenue sharing.

Van Tuinen said there are examples of the Legislature granting such relief to specific towns with such losses if town officials can prove they have examined other available avenues of relief, including an appeal to Maine Revenue Services.

“So I am cautiously optimistic that such efforts might be approved by the Legislature,” Van Tuinen said in the letter.


The Board of Assessors in September set the value of the mill on U.S. Route 201 at slightly more than $463 million — down from the previous assessment of $567 million.

Selectman Donald Skillings made the motion to table discussion until town officials can further discuss details of the assessment of the paper mill with the town’s attorney. The motion was unanimous and came without discussion.

In a document prepared for selectmen, Van Tuinen said that the approximately $1.1 billion in total valuation of real estate in the town is excessive and should be reduced.

The appeal, if approved by the board, would be made to Maine Revenue Services’ property tax division.

State valuation generally lags two years behind the local valuation, Van Tuinen said, meaning that the state valuation for Skowhegan for 2015 would be based on 2013 property assessments.

If the town’s valuation is not appealed, Skowhegan taxpayers would pay county taxes and receive school funding and revenue sharing funds based on the proposed state valuation, which doesn’t take into account the loss in value of the Sappi mill.


County taxes are due Nov. 1, and school taxes for 2014-15 already have been calculated and partially paid.

Any appeal filed with the state would not affect taxes until 2015 at the earliest, but it could provide tax relief in the future, especially for school funding, which is determined by the average state valuation over the last three years, Van Tuinen said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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