Domtar closure has panel pruning budget

Posted March 09, 2009, at 9:39 p.m.

BAILEYVILLE, Maine — The Baileyville Town Council plans to slice more from its 2009-10 municipal budget to help forestall any property tax increases in the wake of Domtar Corp. closing its pulp mill.

The councilors made it clear they planned to do whatever they could to keep the company that employs more than 300 on the town’s tax rolls.

Last week, Domtar announced that it was idling its pulp mill indefinitely beginning May 5.

The company “wanted a total of $1 million between cuts from [its] valuation and cuts from our budget” to reduce its tax obligation, interim Town Manager Dottie Johnson said at a meeting of the Town Council Monday night. Town officials tried to reach that goal, but has fallen short by a few thousand dollars so far.

Now that the mill is being temporarily mothballed, the council plans to revisit the budget.

Everything is on the table including the police, recreation, ambulance and public works departments. “We plan on going through every service we’ve got to see what we could do without and how much money it will save us,” Johnson said.

Officials also want to sell the town’s only medical building. “At this stage we would give it away,” Johnson said.

The council put on hold the annual town meeting that had been scheduled for later this month.

But there were some bright spots during the meeting.

Johnson said the town has sold two lots in its commercial park. Because the town still is in negotiations with the buyer, she declined to name the company or how much it is paying for the lots.

She also said that a waste-to-energy company was looking to occupy the former Louisiana-Pacific mill. She did not elaborate. L-P shut down its oriented strand board manufacturing operations at the plant in 2005, and the facility has been idle since then.

But the happiest news, Johnson said, will be when Domtar announces that it is returning to production.

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