D-F selectmen set 2018-19 mill rate at $21.20

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — The selectmen set the tax commitment for the 2018-19 fiscal year during a July 23 meeting, with the mill rate rising 30 cents from last year to a rate of $21.20 per $1,000 in assessed property. The mill rate is for a net amount of $6,356,478 to be raised for the town budget, RSU 68 appropriation, Dover-Foxcroft’s share of the county spending plan and several other expenses including the TIF financing plan and overlay.

“We would propose committing $21.20,” Town Manager Jack Clukey said. “Last year it was $20.90, so a little less than a third of a mill. We thought it would be fourth tenths.”

In other business, the selectmen scheduled a special town meeting for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 27 to start before the board’s next regular session. The special town meeting will feature a vote to fix a clerical error in an article from the RSU 68 district budget meeting held in May.

“They discovered an error in that warrant,” Clukey said. He said the total near $11.6 million RSU 68 budget was not affected nor were the assessments for the four district communities.

The 2018-19 school budget was approved at the district meeting and then at a referendum in mid-June across the four towns.

RSU 68 Superintendent Stacy Shorey said the article asking residents to approve nearly $303,700 in local additional funds listed a sum of $173,460 in place of the $303,700 figure. The RSU 68 budget exceeds the state’s Essential Programs and Services funding model by $173,460 and this number appeared twice in the article — incorrectly in the first instance and then in the correct place.

Shorey said the adjustment to the RSU 68 budget would need to be passed in each district town, including Charleston, Monson and Sebec in addition to Dover-Foxcroft, in order to be enacted. She said she will be meeting with the other selectboards to explain situation.

“We are not appropriating more money,” Select Vice Chair Cindy Freeman Cyr said.

“If we are voting on this we are not voting an additional $80,000 to raise,” Selectperson Gail D’Agostino said.

“It’s an allocation issue, not a tax issue — it’s a snafu,” Selectperson Steve Grammont said.

“The only way to correct it is a traditional town meeting and the question is when do we do that?,” Clukey said.

“Based on our earlier conversation we will have our special town meeting on Monday, Aug. 27 and have our regular selectmen’s meeting after that,” he said before the board set the session.

Town officials also heard from Thompson Free Library Director of Library Services Greta Schroeder and members of the library executive committee on a potential policy change to allow all RSU 68 and Foxcroft Academy students to have free library cards.

“This proposal is to allow non-resident students to have a library card at no cost, the same as the resident students do,” Schroeder said. “It would be for any K-12 student who attends SeDoMoCha or Foxcroft Academy who lives outside of the region.”

She said there are 254 non-resident library card holders at the Thompson Free Library, along with five non-resident children who have cards of their own, and they all pay a $20 annual fee to the library. Dover-Foxcroft residents are able to have library cards at no cost.

“I just want to say it’s brilliant and why wouldn’t we want to extend our wonderful library to all students,” Freeman Cyr said.

“We just feel like the library is a partner in education and we want to expand our resources,” Schroeder said.

“I certainly think it’s a wonderful idea as well,” Shorey said, mentioning how students from three other towns attend SeDoMoCha and Foxcroft Academy as well as from other communities through superintendent’s agreements.

Tom Lizotte of the executive committee, who also is the county manager, said in the spring he will have windows open at his office across East Main Street from the Thompson Free Library. Lizotte said he can hear “the troop of chattering children walking down from SeDoMoCha” as classes will visit the library.

“We know reading is the key to education, and that’s always been an awkward situation,” he said, as some students are able to get library cards while others cannot.

“This is a compromise,” Lizotte said, as the non-resident students’ parents would still need to pay to check out books and other items. “We thought this would remove a barrier for students at Foxcroft Academy and SeDoMoCha and it really doesn’t cost us any money and it gives the students a sense of ownership.”

The selectmen also proclaimed September as Maine Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in town. The request was made by Team Hailey Hugs, a non-profit based in Bethel working to bring awareness to childhood cancer and raise money to help families affected.

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