SKOWHEGAN — Officials have approved a new property tax rate that is an increase from the prior year and reflects a spike in the operating budgets for the town, county and school district, the town manager said.

The new mill rate is $18.35 per $1,000 of assessed property value, up from last year’s rate of $18 per $1,000 of valuation, Town Manager Christine Almand said at Tuesday’s selectmen meeting.

“There are multiple reasons for this increase,” Almand said by phone Wednesday.

Among them are a rise in the town’s budget that includes creating three new positions at a cost of about $240,000. Also $140,000 was put toward retiring debt and an additional $117,000 in the capital spending reserve fund.

Almand also said that the first bond payment for the town’s public safety building is due.

She said the town budget expanded by 4.57%, the Somerset County budget increased 4.27% and the operating budget for Maine School Administrative District 54 grew by 2.67%.

Tax bills will be sent this week and residents can enroll in the “tax club,” which allows residents to make eight monthly payments instead of the traditional two.

In other business Tuesday, selectmen gave approval to the town’s police chief to accept an anonymous donation of $50,000 “to be used at the discretion of the police chief.”

Police Chief David Bucknam did not attend the meeting but sent a memo to selectmen last week asking for their approval for the funds to be used to purchase security cameras for downtown and to put toward the new Public Safety Building.

Selectmen Chairman Todd Smith said the windfall “was a donation of a local couple who are pleased with the direction of the police department and their interactions with the community.”

“The intended purposes for this funding will be immediately for some camera upgrades and repairs and some items to be purchased for the public safety building, etc.,” Smith said. “I think it’s a wonderful gift.”

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