JAY — The Select Board voted 4-1 Tuesday to set the property tax rate at $23 per $1,000 of valuation and use $1.5 million from surplus toward the tax commitment. The rate is $2.50 more than last year.

Chairman Terry Bergeron, Vice Chairman Tim DeMillo, Tom Goding and Lee Ann Dalessandro voted in favor; Gary McGrane opposed.

There is $109,696.72 for an overlay, which would cover abatements and other qualified reasons. If not used, it would roll back into the general fund next year. That will leave nearly $6.8 million in the town’s undesignated fund.

A couple of selectpersons mentioned they were glad that the rate wasn’t as high as they anticipated since the use of $3.6 million for the defunct paper mill’s valuation. The majority of members were glad that it didn’t use more than the $1.5 million from its undesignated fund.

The rate could have been as high as $27.85 per $1,000 of valuation.

Assessing agent Paul Binette of John E. O’Donnell & Associates in New Gloucester and Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere worked to get the best tax rate for the town and taxpayers with the future in mind.


In 2021, the town used $2.25 million from the undesignated fund to keep the rate from skyrocketing when the wood digester ruptured in 2020. Officials filed for the state’s Sudden and Severe Reduction in Valuation that year. It will file again this year for next year.

However, they discovered they received $600,000 less in state-revenue sharing this year. State Rep. Sheila Lyman, R-Livermore Falls, put in a bill for the town to be reimbursed to the Legislature but it died.

There is a second bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, that was carried over to Jan. 1, 2024, that would fix the law for all towns so no other town will get less revenue than anticipated during the gap year.

According to the law, the additional revenue-sharing and aid to education does not take effect until the following year. The tax rate still increased by $3 per $1,000 of valuation in 2021.

Selectperson Gary McGrane suggested Tuesday using $2.25 million from the undesignated fund this year instead of $1.5 million.

LaFreniere said they need to save the money for roads damaged from the June 29 flash flood because if a federal disaster declaration is granted by President Joe Biden, it is a reimbursement program. The town, which has spent money from its regular budget to get as many roads fixed as possible, is looking at $7.9 million to fix roads and give residents temporary access over roads that need more expensive repairs and permits.


If there is no declaration, Jay will be responsible to pay to fix the roads. They also don’t know if the bill at the legislative level will pass next year. If not, they will be in the same situation as this year.

To top it off, selectpersons entered into a settlement agreement with Pixelle Specialty Solutions earlier this month to settle a tax abatement for 2022-23. The board approved an abatement of $12.2 million in valuation and $250,100 in taxes.

The paper mill and associated properties were valued at $108.5 million in 2022-23. Under the agreement, the town could only use $3.6 million of valuation for the mill properties in the tax commitment.

The town will undergo a full-revaluation in 2025. Properties will be valued at fair market value, Binette said.

In 2024, Binette said he would do a systematic valuation update to keep the town’s tax ratio as high as possible until a full equalization program is done in 2025.

The town’s certified state valuation ratio is 89% this year which means the properties will not be valued at 100%. Binette said he was told by the state that the ratio could dip to 70% next year if nothing is done.


The lower ratio means this year, taxpayers who are qualified for the homestead exemption of $25,000 will only get $22,500 for an exemption.

Under the new tax rate, a house valued at $75,000 and factoring in the homestead exemption would pay $1,213.36 in taxes, $188.25 more than last year.

A bill for a house valued at $100,000 with the exemption, will be $1,788.25, $250.75 more than last year. A bill for a house valued at $150,000 with the exemption would be $2,938.25, $375.75 more that a year ago.

Selectperson Gary McGrane thanked the negotiating team of Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere and assessing agent Paul Binette “for negotiating an agreement we can live with.”

It was brought back to the Jay Select Board to consider during a brief executive session Friday to vote on the settlement.

Pixelle officials agreed to withdraw two pending abatement applications from the state Board of Property Tax Review as part of the settlement. Also as part of the agreement, Jay agreed to assess the mill and property at $3.6 million for tax year of 2023-24.

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