SKOWHEGAN — Residents will go to Town Meeting on Monday night looking down the barrel of the first bond payment from taxation on phase III of the town’s mandated combined sewer overflow project. The $882,732 payment is expected to be part of a 15 percent increase in the overall budget for the coming year.

If all articles are passed as written, the town budget — not including county tax and school district share — will total about $10,375,225. The budget approved by voters last year was $8,978,164.

The Town Meeting is set for 7 p.m. in the Skowhegan Opera House on Water Street. The annual election of officers and school district budget validation vote are scheduled for Tuesday.

Town Manager Christine Almand said the majority of the budget increase is due to the payment on the sewer bond. The $11.88 million bond to be paid off over 20 years was approved by voters at the 2013 annual Town Meeting. The project, which separates storm water overflow from the material to be treated at the pollution control plant, is mandated by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Almand said the town’s first bond payment of about $802,000 was made last year using money from the Sappi tax increment financing, or TIF, district. This year, with the reduction in valuation of the Sappi paper mill, TIF revenue has dried up.

The bond will be paid off in 2033.


“What we chose to do back in 2013 was to take the route of getting the 20-year bond because construction prices go up over time and we wanted to get that done sooner than later,” Almand said.

The current tax rate is $17.15 for every $1,000 in property tax valuation. Almand said the new tax rate can’t be calculated yet without firm numbers from the final Town Meeting vote, the county budget meeting and the school budget validation vote. State revenue sharing is projected to be down about 4 percent.

Almand said the municipal budget — without the sewer bond payment — is up 5.7 percent over the current budget year, which ends June 30. Spending recommendations by the Board of Selectmen and the town Budget Committee differ on budget increases, leaving the maximum spending increase at 15.56 percent including the bond payment and 5.73 percent on just municipal budget amounts.

Increases include $247,425 more for the town’s reserve accounts and capital improvement savings for future projects, $127,608 for employee wages, $136,629 for benefits and $48,350 for electricity. The reserve account spending also includes proposed funding to do a property revaluation townwide, Almand said. The last time there was a revaluation was in 1991, she said.

“It’s about making the tax base equitable,” Almand said. “Over time, things change, people’s property have had some adjustments.”

Spending recommendations from selectmen and the Budget Committee differ also on the amount of surplus to be used to offset taxes this coming year. Budget Committee members want to use $500,000 from surplus, while selectmen want to tap $1 million.


Voters agreed last year to take $1 million from town surplus accounts to offset taxes, but with some money not being spent and unanticipated revenue, there still is $3.9 million in surplus to be used.

Big-ticket items on the warrant Monday night include $1,324,271 for general town government, which covers the finance department, the town manager’s office, building maintenance, code enforcement, planning, insurance and community development.

Other spending items include:

• $1,283,870 for the Police Department.

• $821,270 for the Fire Department.

• $816,065 for solid waste management.


• $428,936 for summer roads.

• $586,996 for winter roads.

• $247,000 for public works vehicle maintenance.

• $454,971 for parks and recreation.

Selectmen also have different spending recommendations for the town’s service organizations. Requested amounts submitted by petition include $101,867 by the Skowhegan Free Public Library and $24,000 for the Chamber of Commerce.

The Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee both recommend taking no money from taxation for Kennebec Valley Community Action Program transportation, KVCAP child development, the Family Violence Project, Spectrum Generations for the elderly, Hospice Volunteers, sexual assault and crisis support and the Skowhegan community food cupboard.


Elections are scheduled for Tuesday. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are five candidates for two seats on the Board of Selectmen, three people on the ballot for four vacant positions on the school board and three candidates for road commissioner.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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