Stockton Springs Report
With early morning temperatures in the 40s and being greeted by frost on the window, we know it is time to prepare for winter. As I drive through town, I see firewood being delivered, oil tanks being filled and summer's lawn furniture and ornaments being stored away for the winter. David Tuck of Maine Marine Full Service Yard on Route 1 in Stockton Springs has been busy shrink-wrapping boats. I found him wrapping Wesley Shute's Daydreamer. If you need to get your craft shrink-wrapped, you can contact David at 323-8639.
I received an email from Jane Austin, teaching principal of the Stockton Springs Elementary School. Ms Austin wishes to invite all residents to the RSU 20 Board of Directors workshop at the Stockton Springs Elementary School on Thursday, Oct. 4, beginning at 6 p.m. to discuss the future of the school. The Board of Directors invites you to attend and share your opinion and join in the discussion of this topic.
Sharon Catus of the school board is seeking residents with children and/or grandchildren at the Searsport District Middle School to form a parent group. The first meeting is slated for Monday, Oct, 15, at 6 pm.
From the town manager
Stockton Springs' town manager took some time out of his busy week to talk to us about our local property tax. His press release follows.
"Stockton Springs Announces a Reduced Mill Rate for 2012
"Town Manager Rich Couch advises that the Town's 2012 Commitment Book and 2012 Tax Bills are printed. 'Garnett Robinson and Amber Poulin have been hard at work in the Town's Assessment Office getting ready for Friday's deadline. The tax rate will go down a few cents. Our mill rate will go from $14.70 in 2011 to $14.25 this year. That is a savings of $45 on a $100,000 home. It isn’t a lot, but every penny helps.' Couch said. 'Our goal was to stay flat,' he added.
"Couch says that he is eager to take nearly 1,500 pieces of mail to the Post Office this week. He commented, 'I hate to sound greedy, but the town has bills to pay and payroll to meet.' Most municipalities are cash-strapped this time of year. 'We need to spend over $10,000 on road sand before Mother Nature serves up her first snowfall of the season,' Couch warned. 'Completing the Commitment Book, printing the tax bills and getting nearly 1,500 pieces of mail out is a lot of work for a small town staff,' Couch commented.
"According to Select Board Member Peter Curley, 'The Budget Committee and the Select Board worked very hard last spring to keep our spending down.' Couch explained that 'only 17% of local taxes are controlled at the town level. 71% of your local property taxes go directly to RSU 20 and 12% goes directly to Waldo County.' The town of Stockton Springs is responsible for writing a check for just over $176,000 to the school each month. The town's share of county taxes is around $352,000 this year. Select Board Member Lesley Cosmano commented, 'I think everyone at all levels is working hard to hold down costs. We know residents are hurting as we struggle through this tough economy.'
"It might interest readers to know that the state does not require municipalities to send a tax bill. 'A tax bill is sent as a courtesy -- it is more effective to collect taxes that way,' Couch admits.
"For residents that have questions when their tax bill arrives, the Town Assessment Office is open Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Assessor Garnett Robinson is at Town Hall on Wednesdays. The Assessment Office can be reached at 567-3550 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Property taxes are due by Oct. 31."
Once again, I'd like to thank Mr. Couch for his assistance in informing residents about what is going on at the Town Office. It is quite refreshing to have someone actively reach out to the citizens he serves.
Stockton Springs Historical Society
Marion Fisher advises that our Stockton Springs Historical Society will meet on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 1:30 p.m. in the Colcord House meeting rooms at the Stockton Springs Community Library. Jack Merrithew will present a program on the McGilvery Connection - Stockton vs. Searsport. All are welcome.
From Dawn Furbush
Former town columnist Dawn Furbush is a valuable source of information for our column and sends me news often. Thank you, Dawn, for all your help. She tells me that debris pickup will be Saturday, Oct. 6 -- white goods and metal. She reminds us that our local access channel has all the trash pickup schedules, as well as other needed information.
The Planning Board Meeting for Oct. 3 has been canceled. The next select board meeting is Oct. 4. However, Mr. Couch advises that it has been moved to 5 p.m. to ensure that everyone can attend the school meeting.
Dawn also informed me that our new selectwoman’s name is spelled Lesley, not Leslie, as I have been printing. Thank you, Ms. Cosmano, for not calling me out on the error. How many times have I heard a politician insist that they didn't care what you said about them as long as you spell their name right? I'm glad to see our local leaders are not so inclined to believe that adage.
From the columnist
I would like to remind everyone that Lesley is still looking for unopened foodstuffs to offer on our behalf to the food bank. She felt those preparing for winter by cleaning out their kitchens for a trip to a warmer climate might like to donate them rather than throwing them out. All donations may be dropped off at the Town Office.
It is hard to believe that our column is so short this week. Usually, we have a lot to say. We are a busy town. But as I stated earlier, everyone is preparing for winter and trying to get in their last summer activity and enjoying the foliage. Our large maple has turned and the rest are following suit.
As pretty as winter is, it can be brutal. If you are not ready to meet the season's challenge because of your economic condition, I'll remind you that your neighbors understand your plight and have provided for you in the form of Waldo County Community Action Program, locally known as Waldo County CAP. Especially if you are elderly, you should call and make an appointment. Someone from this government agency will visit you in your home and inspect it for free. Then, they will have it insulated for you to keep the heat in the house. It makes sense for them to do that, as opposed to putting money into LHEAP to having it go out the roof. You may not think you qualify, but if you are on a fixed income, they may pay for part or all of it. So please, do not resist calling because you think it is a program for someone else. It is for you.
Until next week, stay warm and if you don't live in Stockton Springs, please visit.