April 08, 2020

Madawaska’s valuation rises> Largest increase in County will have positive, negative impacts

MADAWASKA — The town’s state valuation has increased by 13.5 percent over the last two years, making it the highest-valued municipality in Aroostook County. The $40 million increase has boosted the valuation to $338 million. Two years ago, it was $298 million.

Madawaska’s increase is the largest in the County. Presque Isle’s increased by $22 million, Caribou’s by $17 million and Aroostook County as a whole by $129 million.

Per capita, Madawaska’s state valuation is $70,466, with a population of 4,803. The per capita value for Presque Isle, which has a population more than double Madawaska’s, is $31,753. During the past two decades, the title of highest-valued municipality in Aroostook County has shifted back and forth between the two communities.

While the increased state valuation gives Madawaska bragging rights, it also comes with a price tag. State valuation is used in determining a town’s share of the county tax, and it is also used by the state in determining school aid.

Madawaska’s share will increase in both cases.

Thomas Scott, superintendent of schools, said the increased valuation will “have a negative impact on state subsidy for education.”

While the state has not made final what it will pay for education, Madawaska’s increased state valuation “shows the town has an increased local capacity, and the state won’t send us as much money,” said Scott. He said Madawaska will lose about $150,000 in state education subsidy.

Scott said, “The Madawaska School Department will go from receiving 34 percent [in 1997] of its operating costs from the state to about 30 percent [in 1998].”

The change will come into effect with the education budget starting July 1.

“Since we [the town of Madawaska] tax on local valuation, the tax base has increased and the town should have a significant increase in its resources,” Scott said.

Larry Record of Maine Revenue Services, formerly known as the Bureau of Taxation, said the 13.5 percent change in Madawaska “is largely attributed to Fraser Papers Inc. and capital investment there for the past few years.”

Record explained that Madawaska’s 1998 state valuation is actually the town’s valuation as of April 1, 1996. The Fraser capital expenditures involved in the increase were those made between April 1994 and April 1996.

Record said, “A period of time goes by before we get documentation from Fraser on capital improvements.”

Town Manager Arthur Faucher could not be reached Sunday to find out if the town’s valuation of Fraser Papers Inc. will go from $220 million, the figure used for the past two tax years, to $260 million for its 1998 property taxes.

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