Selectmen in the towns of Madison and Skowhegan are scheduled to consider a request from the town of Jay asking for money contributions toward lobbying costs related to legislation addressing tax valuation drops at paper mills.

Both Madison and Skowhegan will consider the request at board meetings next week.

“The town of Jay is looking at a very significant invoice for the lobbying that we had done on these bills,” wrote Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere in an email that was sent to officials in Madison, Skowhegan and East Millinocket. “Since this was essentially done on behalf of all of our communities, I need to ask if your boards would consider contributing to the costs.”

LaFreniere said the town does not have a final figure on the cost, but that even $2,500 from each of the other towns would help. The Portland-based law firm Preti Flaherty provided the lobbying service.

“We decided to pursue getting the bills passed, and now we’re talking with the other communities for paying the invoice on that,” she said. “It’s their decision on whether they’re willing to help support that effort or not.”

Al Veneziano, chairman of the Board of Selectmen in Madison, said he felt it was unlikely the board would approve any contribution, since they had voted months ago against hiring a lobbyist to promote the legislation.

The Madison board is scheduled to discuss the request on Monday. “I’m not sure how it will go,” Veneziano said. “It’s not something we agreed to last time, so just on that basis I don’t see it getting done.”

Officials in Skowhegan will take the request up on Tuesday. “I honestly can’t guess as to what the board’s decision will be,” said Town Manager Christine Almand. She said officials in Skowhegan have not had any recent discussions regarding the legislation.

L.D. 281 proposes that the state make a one-time exception to the current education funding formula for the four communities due to recent reductions in tax value of more than 15 percent each.

It currently takes the state up to three years to recognize a change in valuation, which according to town officials in each community means they would be losing out on valuable school funding.

The bill has been carried over to the next legislative session, said Rep. Jeff McCabe, who sponsored the bill. Another bill, L.D. 282, would have permanently amended the law.

In Jay, the legislation would have brought about an additional $600,000 in state education aid to the community next year. The town saw a $200 million drop in tax value at Verso Paper’s Androscoggin Mill in 2014.

Since then, taxes have risen from $14 per $1,000 of assessed value to $15.75. An increase is also expected in 2016, LaFreniere said.

She said she is still hopeful that the legislation will be passed in the next session of the Legislature.

“Because of the way the state funding formula goes, there’s a three-year lag, so each of the different communities depending on when their state valuation is being adjusted, it could be three years before you start seeing anything,” she said. “It takes a long period of time to get that reduced valuation into the formula.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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