May 22, 2018
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Willimantic residents protest county tax

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

MONSON, Maine — Willimantic residents voted Monday to protest the county tax after being told by town officials that Piscataquis County commissioners had used their powers against the town.

Resident and moderator Rick Packard told the annual town meeting audience of about 30 that the town had been “treated pretty shabby” by county officials.

“They’ve screwed with us,” Packard said before making a recommendation to renege on paying the nearly $72,000 county tax bill. Packard said the county is not doing what it should do for the town, and he suggested residents take the commissioners to court.

Selectman John Tatko, who was re-elected to his seat, said the town had a problem with County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte but weren’t allowed to speak to commissioners about it. He was alluding to a dispute with Tourtelotte, who is a Willimantic resident, about her position and actions on the Town Hall renovation project.

As a result of an inspection of the Town Hall by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the town was cited for failure to obtain a construction permit. Until some structural changes can be made, no large gatherings can be held in the Town Hall so the annual town meeting was moved to the Monson Community Center. In addition, town officials had to give the Fire Marshal’s Office their word that the basement and the second floor of the Town Hall would not be used for any official purpose and that the basement stairs would be removed.

Although resident David Thayer said the town should protest the treatment, he didn’t advocate withholding the taxes when the interest is unknown.

Tatko pointed out that county taxes have increased by $30,000 in five years and Selectwoman Linda Packard called the process through which the county levies the tax a “well-guarded secret.”

Packard said the town’s concern about the county was not a reflection of the services provided by the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department of which the town was appreciative.

Residents agreed to leave it up to selectmen on how best to pay the county taxes.

As for the Town Hall renovation project, residents supported Thayer’s recommendation that all further remodeling and improvements cease until a complete plan is drafted by an architect or a licensed engineer and approved by residents.

“We really need a good, solid plan,” Thayer said.

In other business, residents elected Cheryl Fairbrother of Dover-Foxcroft, who is not a registered voter in the town but who does own property in Willimantic, to serve on the planning board.

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