News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, May 22, 2014
Tax rate increases in Brooklin for first time in recent years

by Rich Hewitt

The board of selectmen on Tuesday, May 20, approved the new tax rate that will go into effect on July 1.

Based on the assessor’s certification of the town’s assessment, the tax rate will increase from 6.6 mills to 7.2 mills. That reflects increases in the town and school budgets that were approved at the annual town meeting.

The increase translates into a property tax increase of 60 cents per $1,000 of property valuation, according to board member Lori Gallo. That would mean a $60 tax hike on a property valued at $100,000.

Chariman Albie Smith noted that this is the first tax rate increase for the town in at least three years.

Town officials announced that they will no longer interrupt their work day to fill requests from real estate agents for tax card information on town properties over the phone. Smith said those telephone requests have become frequent enough to disrupt the work of the board and other office staff.

“I don’t think we need to be dropping everything in order to get that information for them,” Smith said.

The town office staff will note the information requested and provide it when they have time. For requests that come from Bangor or closer, they will inform them that they can also come to the office during times when it is open.

Also, beginning in June, at least one member of the board will be in the office between 2 and 4 p.m. on Thursdays in order to improve communication with the code enforcement officer.

Often, Smith said, issues arise that are difficult to discuss or resolve over the phone. Deborah Brewster said, at present, the selectmen and Code Enforcement Officer Judy Jenkins are not regularly scheduled in the building at the same time.

“It’s hard when the select board’s hours don’t overlap with the code enforcement officer at all,” she said. “And she doesn’t have the flexibility to be here on Tuesdays.”

Having a member of the board in the office will allow them to discuss issues as they arise.

“It’s more about getting information and sharing information,” Smith said.

Brewster noted that if two selectmen are in the office at the same time, it does create a quorum, but said they would not take action on any issue that did arise during those Thursday hours.

The board appointed two members to the planning board on Tuesday. They appointed Jon Hopkins to another three-year term and appointed alternate Linda Graceffa to a three-year term. The vote on that appointment was 2-1 with Brewster opposed.

Gallo had initially nominated Graceffa for the post, but that nomination died for the lack of a second. Brewster nominated current board member and chairman Catherine Rees, which also died for lack of a second.

When Gallow tried again, Smith seconded the nomination of Graceffa, which was approved by the split vote.

There was no discussion on the nominations, and the board took no action on the vacancy for an alternate on the planning board left by Graceffa moving to a full member.

The board denied a request from Steve Robbins to buy and sell lobsters, clams and fish at Naskeag Point. Robbins had proposed to buy lobster from four floats set in the harbor and to use a freezer truck on the dock to sell the seafood.

Smith said there was little interest in the proposal by local fishermen, but there was concern about congestion both in the harbor and on the land. He said that was a key factor in the board’s decision.

“We’ve tried hard to keep the place in order down there, and it’s been working due largely to the good efforts of those who work there on a daily basis,” he said.

Smith reported that the Maine Department of Transportation plans to replace a large culvert on Route 175 just south of the Flye Point Road this summer. The project likely will disrupt traffic, but, at this point, the MDOT has not set a specific date for the work.

The warrants for the week of May 13 were: $74,345, with the school accounting for $64,709. Receipts that week were $23,778.

On May 20, the warrant totaled $5,703, and receipts were $17.849.