Jay, Maine, voters approve funding of US$300,000 for revaluation of Verso Paper's mill, which is seeking US$459M abatement in valuation for its real estate and personal property; Verso Paper pays 69% of Jay's property taxes, says town's assessor

JAY, Maine , March 25, 2014 () – Residents voted Monday to transfer $300,000 from undesignated funds to do a revaluation of the Verso Paper Corp. mill.

The company has asked the town to abate $459 million in valuation from the company's real estate and personal property at the Androscoggin Mill on Riley Road.

According to Jay's tax commitment data, the town values the mill's property at $815.4 million. Verso pays 69 percent of the town's property taxes, town assessing agent Paul Binette said previously.

Several questions were asked about Verso's abatement request and what it would mean to the town and taxpayers.

"If the mill's value goes up, the town's value will go up; if it goes down, it will be less," former Town Manager Ruth Cushman said.

Should the mill's value go down and Jay's valuation is decreased, it will effect not only Jay but also Franklin County towns and the towns of Livermore and Livermore Falls in RSU 73 that Jay is a part of.

The last revaluation of the mill was in 1997 by ValPoint, which is now Corporate Valuations of Oregon. Since the valuation, the mill has submitted additions and subtractions of equipment to determine its value and assessment.

They've looked at some numbers, Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said. Using a scenario of a value of $930 million for the mill that is reduced to $800 million, it would mean an increase in the tax rate from $14 per $1,000 of property valuation to $16 per $1,000 of valuation, she said.

The revaluation numbers are expected to be in later this year before the tax commitment is done, she said.

Resident Tom Fortier, also a Budget Committee member, asked if the Board of Selectpersons was prepared to cut the budget.

"We are going to cut as much as possible tonight out of the budget," Chairman Steve McCourt said.

They don't know what the mill's value will come in at, he said.

Following the special town meeting and a brief selectpersons meeting, the board and Budget Committee worked on the proposed $6.2 million budget for 2014-15.

"Overall, we're looking at about $512,000 in reductions," LaFreniere said.

By 9 p.m., the panels had cut more than $300,000 from the proposal and were continuing scrutiny of it to help soften the blow to taxpayers if the mill's value is reduced.

Budget review will continue at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, at Spruce Mountain High School library

dperry@sunjournal.com

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