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Everyone seems to be traveling and enjoying the summer — making up for time lost over the past two years! Our son, Alex, finally made it here from LA, for his first visit in 2022. He got sidelined by COVID, then 100-plus temps in Phoenix; finally, third time’s a charm. He flew into Boston and I drove down to meet him in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where Adrienne and I also visited with old friends.

I don’t miss the crush of people living in Massachusetts — or the greenhead flies at their beaches — but it is a lovely seaside town and working port.

There is a beautiful, but sad, memorial to the lost crew of a sunk fishing boat, the Heather Lynne II, out of Newburyport. A tragic accident in 1996, where the crew were alive in an air pocket of the overturned hull, but the boats who had rushed to assist were told to wait for the Coast Guard and divers — who came too late. There is actually a book, called “Dead Men Tapping” by Kath Yeomans, if you are interested in reading more about it.

I have noticed Waldo County’s COVID numbers are down quite a bit despite surging in other parts of the country, yay! I do hope it’s not just because people are not reporting their cases because of the convenience of taking at-home tests. If you’re tired of worrying about COVID, Monkeypox has now arrived in York, according to the Maine CDC.

Memorial service for Jo Cooley

There will be a memorial service and celebration of life for Jo on Thursday, Aug. 11. Folks will gather between 9 and 9:30 a.m. at Moose Point State Park, Route 1, Searsport. Meet at the picnic shelter. Lunch will be served following the ceremony. The memorial will be in the Quaker style; songs, poems and thoughts about Jo welcome. (Leave time to stop at the booth and tell them you are there for the memorial.)

LD 290 – Tax relief for seniors

You have probably heard about the new tax relief law that goes into effect in 2022. This new law will allow permanent Maine residents, over 65 years of age, and who have owned their home for the past 10 years, to apply to have their tax rate frozen at the current amount for the next year.

The Town Office is getting lots of eager calls regarding this new law, just passed in the spring. However, the applications will not be available until Aug. 8. You have until Dec. 1 to file them — plenty of time. Then, your tax rate will be frozen at the “rate of the property tax year preceding the date of application for stabilization” per the wording of the bill.

As with all things new, and the government, there are many questions asked but not yet answerable. Different towns have different fiscal years: February through January, January through December, or July through June — like the state of Maine.

How, if at all, will this impact filing for the tax freeze? Unlike the Maine Tree Growth tax break, LD 290 requires taxpayers to file the application every year to maintain their frozen tax rate at the level at which it was frozen the first year.

Also intriguing is the fact that you can take your frozen tax rate with you to wherever you might move in the future in Maine. So, it would seem that if I freeze my tax rate here in Jackson, and then I inherit a luxurious waterfront estate on Penobscot Bay, in any waterfront town, I can take my tax rate with me when I move. I would continue to pay maybe $3,000 instead of the $20,000 or so that many waterfront properties of seacoast communities command.

More intriguing yet, is the fact that they passed this bill with no income limit requirements: 65-year-olds who are perfectly capable of paying their regular taxes will enjoy the perk of being able to freeze their real estate taxes while those of us under 65 will ultimately find our personal tax dollars funding these credits to the town via the state’s General Fund.

The who, what, and why fors of this new law are all very mysterious. One more fly in the ointment, according to Maine.gov, the Maine Constitution states that the state is legally only required to reimburse at least 50% of town revenue lost as a result of “statutory property tax exemptions or credits.” This could leave towns hanging with less than expected revenue in coming years. So much food for thought — makes me hungry for answers.

Town Office

The next Planning Board meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 6:30 p.m. I’m happy to report that roadside mowing is underway. It makes it so much easier to see all those critters that like to suddenly appear in the road.

Tax bills for 2022 are expected to be in the mail by the end of August.

 

 

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