SKOWHEGAN — The Board of Assessors has set a new property tax rate after an error was spotted earlier this week when figures from the Sappi mill valuation were being entered into financial software. The correction will require those who paid their bill early to make up the difference to avoid an interest payment.

The new tax rate is $17.24 per $1,000 of property valuation, down from last year’s rate of $18.20 by 5.3%. This means that a home valued at $150,000 has an annual tax bill of $2,586, down $144 from 2018 when the rate was $18.20 for every $1,000 in property valuation and a comparably valued house was taxed $2,730.

The erroneous tax rate had been set at $15.90 per $1,000.

Because of the error, Town Manager Christine Almand said in an email that the new deadline for paying taxes is Oct. 21. Corrected bills will be sent out next week. Accompanying the bill is a letter explaining where the error originated. The error occurred when entering the taxable equipment value of the Sappi mill into the taxable valuation of the town, which resulted in a rate too low for the town to pay its bills.

In the letter Almand offers the town’s apologies for the inconvenience and the apologies from the assessors’ agent for the error.

Those taxpayers who have already paid the first bill, which has been credited to their accounts, will have to make a second payment before the Oct. 21 deadline to cover the increase in the total taxes owed, based on the corrected rate, to avoid interest on the unpaid portion.

Almand also said in the email that residents can enroll in the tax club, which allows residents to make eight monthly payments instead of the traditional two. Enrollment forms are available in the Town Clerk’s Office and must be complete by Oct. 21. Membership in the club applies only to taxpayers’ primary residences, and their account must be current.

The majority of improvements made at the Sappi mill are eligible for the state’s Business Equipment Tax Exemption program, which entitles the town to receive a reimbursement from the state for the lost property taxes. The reimbursement will decrease over time due to the depreciation of the value of the equipment over time.

The mill, a publicly traded company that finished its new paper machine construction last September, employs about 800 people and has an expected annual production capacity of nearly 1 million tons per year, with paper-based packaging added to its traditional output of coated paper. The $200 million investment allows the mill to compete globally in the paperboard market, making luxury packaging and folding cartons for food products and can and jar labels. Products include pet food bags, tapes, filters, paper medical products, even popcorn bags and take-out boxes for Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuit franchises.

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