CLINTON — Selectmen have voted to set the property tax rate at 1.26%, or $12.60 for every $1,000 of property valuation, the highest it can be after residents rejected an article to raise the tax levy at the Town Meeting in June.

Because town officials could not raise it any higher, property tax revenue will not be enough to cover the town’s approved budget, and officials will have to use roughly $200,000 from undesignated funds.

The article to increase the property tax was overwhelmingly rejected at the Town Meeting, with 140 votes in support, 259 against and 40 abstaining. The tax rate decreased by 23% last year as a result of the town’s revaluation.

The town’s assessor agent, Garnett Robinson, told selectmen Tuesday he was concerned about the rate, calling it “artificially low.” He said if the increase had passed at the Town Meeting, the rate likely would have come to around 1.35%. But he was concerned residents would continue to reject future rate increases, or if an increase is approved next year residents will see a large jump in their tax bills.

Robinson said he’s seen other towns in the area where increases were rejected and officials could use other undesignated money to make up the difference for only a few years before serious financial problems arose.

In other business, selectmen voted to allocate the town’s second installment of federal American Rescue Plan Act money to purchase a new ambulance for the Fire Department. The town has roughly $60,000 set aside for a new ambulance and will now add the $177,000 from ARPA to the reserve account.


The department currently has two ambulances and the money will be used to buy a replacement for the older ambulance, Rescue 6. Fire Chief Travis Leary said at a previous meeting that having a second ambulance allows the department to do more patient transfers — bringing in more revenue to the town — and functions as a backup when one ambulance is out for maintenance.

Leary said he spoke with officials in Newport and Gardiner, where they were able to use ARPA money to purchase an ambulance. Selectmen previously had concerns whether it was an acceptable way to use the money.

New ambulances can cost about $300,000, Leary said, so the town now has a significant amount set aside for the purchase. If the town were to buy a brand new ambulance, it could take 18 to 24 months to build, Leary said.

The town used earlier funds to do work in conjunction with the Clinton Water District, and Tuesday selectmen voted to use $445,500 in money from a Kennebec County ARPA grant to make repairs to a water tank. The tank serves about 400 homes and businesses in Clinton.

The board also approved the employment agreement for a new town manager, John Bellino, and accepted the resignation of the current manager, Earla Haggerty. Haggerty’s last day as manager — and Bellino’s first — will be Monday, Sept. 5, but she will work as an assistant to Bellino for two weeks after that. His salary will be about $65,000.

Throughout the meeting a number of people thanked Haggerty for her work, and Haggerty thanked the town’s department heads for their contributions over the years.


“What was accomplished in these four years could not have happened without the leadership of those department heads,” Haggerty said. “It has been an adventure, and I’m glad to pass the baton to (Bellino).”

Haggerty previously said that she is looking forward to her retirement, and she plans to spend more time reading and with her family.

Selectmen also approved a plan to buy a recreation shed for Old Mill Park. Anthony Barton, the director of parks and recreation, had previously presented a plan to buy a 10-by-30-foot shed for the park, which will include storage space for parks and recreation, and a space for residents to borrow recreational equipment.

The board voted to move forward with Hill View Mini Barns for the shed, which will cost roughly $14,000, and will be paid for out of the town’s streetscape reserve fund.

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