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Taxes and more taxes

Call it the Searsmont Summer Surprise. Searsmont property owners recently got letters from Assessors Agent Jim Murphy telling us about a Board of Selectmen/Assessors request that the town’s valuations be updated at April 1, 2022.

This means property assessments are going up for most folks in town (ours went up by 30%). It also means, Jim says, that “the town’s tax (mill) rate will be reduced.” Since “the new tax rate and tax amounts will not be known until July 2022,” it may mean that when tax bills go out in late summer, your property taxes may go up, may go down, or may stay about the same. We’ll see.

While we’re at it, Regional School Unit 71 has put forward a 2022-23 budget of about $20 million. Searsmont’s “appropriated” piece will be about $2.5 million, half of which “exceeds Essential Programs and Services” costs. Yes, this is an increase over last year. Yes, Searsmont’s portion is about twice the amount of the town’s municipal operating budget.

Town Office

Lee Woodward Jr. will moderate Searsmont’s special town meeting June 7, 7 p.m. Voters will consider warrant items on renting or selling the old fire house, enacting an Animal Ordinance to deal with (among other things) a growing problem of loose domestic animals and livestock, and purchasing an LED electronic signboard for the Community Building. There will also be votes on amendments to the Land Use Ordinance’s building permit, shoreland zoning and site plan review sections. Copies of the warrant are at the Town Office. And you can get absentee ballots there for the June 14 primary election and school budget vote.

Democratic and most Republican candidates are running unopposed. Republicans can choose between former Rep. Bruce Poliquin or Caratunk’s Elizabeth Caruso to run against incumbent Rep. Jared Golden.

At their May 23 weekly work session, selectmen continued their never-ending discussion of road repair, patching, culverts and paving. They added a first review of town bridges and reported state paving activity on routes 131 and 173. They awarded a fire station mowing contract to Arlo Redman IV (Selectman Arlo III recused himself from the vote), and made plans for winter plowing routes and salt/sand storage.

We also understand that there will soon be preliminary conversations about how the town might use its nearly $150,000 in federal ARPA funds. None of it has been touched yet.

Town Library

Friends of the Searsmont Library say this year’s library Book and Bake Sale is Saturday, July 16, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring book donations to the library until June 30. Call the library at 342-5549 or sign up there to get on the “bakers list” to bring bake sale pies, cakes, breads and other baked goods on the day of the sale.

The library is now hosting the Maine Job Link Career Center’s free consultations for job seekers, by appointment. Call the Career Center’s Marie Curtis at 707-2818 for your one-on-one session.

Bits and pieces

Selectmen Pete Milinazzo and Arlo Redman went to Augusta last week to present Searsmont’s request for $102,500 from Land for Maine’s Future to help purchase the McLellan Property. We were there and can tell you they did a very good job on the town’s behalf. LMF should make its decision by the end of June.

Searsmont is a musical place. The library’s music sessions for kids are just finishing up. The June 2 “Live Outside the Library” featuring singer-songwriter Rupert Wates was a real success (the next concert is the Emilia Dahlin Quintet on Saturday, June 25, 4 p.m.). And tickets for the Muzzy Ridge Concerts during the last two weekends in August are starting to sell. The four MRC concerts sold out last year. Go to robertsirota.com to get yours now.

You go to a ball game in Portland on one of the hottest days of the spring. When you get back, your just-up seedlings are burned to a crisp. Such is the home vegetable grower’s life. Time to replant.

Hope you enjoyed the Searsmont Memorial Day Parade. This paper will have a lot of pictures and this column will have some, too.

 

Rhodora in bloom along a Searsmont road. Photo by Joyce Sirota

 

No black fly kidnappings were reported this week. But mosquitoes are gathering and local pets are advised to stay indoors or wear heavy weights to avoid being carried off. The tulips and daffodils are just about gone, but the rhodora is blooming and lilacs are perfuming the air. Don’tcha just love Searsmont in May?