MILLINOCKET, Maine — Property taxes will decline slightly under a mill rate the Town Council voted 7-0 to accept on Thursday.
The new mill rate, $29.60 per $1,000 of property valuation, represents a slight decline from last year’s mill rate of $29.95, assessor Mike Noble told councilors. It occurred despite a $30 million drop in valuation at the Katahdin Avenue industrial park, home of the No. 11 paper machine and other papermaking equipment.
The lower rate is “a lot better than the $37 mill rate that we were looking at when we began,” Councilor John Raymond said Thursday.
Under the $29.60 mill rate, a home worth $50,000 will be taxed $1,480 for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which ends June 30. The rate is easily the highest in northern Penobscot County, officials said. The state’s listing for municipal property tax rates goes only to 2012, but Medway and Millinocket had the highest rates that year in Penobscot County. Medway’s was $26.49 for that year; Millinocket’s was $26.40, officials said.
The approved rate wasn’t entirely welcome. Resident John Dicentes questioned why the rate didn’t drop more than by 0.25 of a mill, saying that town leaders had expressed hope last year that the high rate would be lowered almost immediately once the town had built up a sufficiently high reserve fund balance.
Councilor Michael Madore explained that town leaders had no way of knowing at the time that a $30 million drop in valuation would occur and that all things considered, any drop in tax rates would be welcomed. Town and school leaders made the drop possible by cutting about $600,000 from the town and school budgets, officials said.
The town has been in a historically-unprecedented economic slump, with a record number of tax-acquired properties for sale. Twenty-two are up for bid this month as the town attempts to recoup $121,557 in taxes from their sale. The 22 will bring the town’s processed tax-acquired properties total to 71, of which 49 were sold or otherwise redeemed, Town Manager Peggy Daigle said in her written report to the council.
The town has collected $342,583 since Daigle instituted the collection process on foreclosed properties in June 2013, Daigle said.
For a list and photos of the tax-acquired properties available for sale, visit the town’s new website at millinocket.org.