MADISON — A new tax rate will be set Wednesday, and town officials are hoping that budget reductions on the municipal and school levels will help maintain the rate at what it is after an 11 percent increase last year.

“Our goal is to come in as close as possible to what the tax rate is now,” Town Manager Tim Curtis said Tuesday.

The Board of Assessors is scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Town Office to set the tax rate.

Last year it set the rate at $19.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, about an 11 percent increase from the 2013-2014 tax rate of $17.53 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The increase followed a drop in tax value at Madison Paper Industries, the town’s largest taxpayer, from $229.7 million in 2013 to $80 million.

In 2013 the mill paid more than $3 million in taxes, providing about 40 percent of the town’s property tax base. The loss sent town officials scrambling for ways to make up the lost tax revenue and fund a municipal budget.

At a special town meeting in September, residents approved establishing a $2.5 million line of credit and the use of $800,000 from the town’s savings account to fund the budget.

In June, residents approved a $9.56 million school budget, down 4 percent from 2014-2015. They also approved a $2.4 million municipal budget that included a plan to consolidate the Madison Police Department with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

“I think the Police Department was just one small factor in (budget reductions),” Curtis said. “The school reduced their budget by almost $500,000 and the town by about $800,000.”

This is also the first year the Board of Selectmen has taken over the duties of the assessors after voters in February opted to consolidate the two boards. The plan first was proposed by residents who argued that combining the two boards would inform selectmen better in drafting a town budget.

Curtis said it’s hard to tell how the mill’s devaluation will affect the tax rate in the long run.

“I can’t guess at what a business is going to do. A lot of that stays up in the air, just given the nature of business and the economy,” he said.

Curtis said the town will continue to advocate for the passage of L.D. 281, proposed legislation that would amend the state’s education funding formula to provide tax relief for communities that see large drops in valuation.

The bill has been carried over to the next legislative session, but had it passed, Curtis said, the town “would have definitely seen a decrease” in the tax rate.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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