April 06, 2020
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Chester taxes likely to drop, officials say

CHESTER – Town taxes should drop below their present rate of $15.90 per $1,000 of assessed personal property when tax bills go out in the next two weeks, the town’s assessing agent said Wednesday.

Ruth Birtz is almost finished with the town’s latest assessments and taxes and expects to set the town’s new tax rate by the first week of November, she said.

“The tax rate should go down because the school and county assessments went down,” Birtz said Wednesday.

Town selectmen met for 11/2 hours Tuesday night to discuss the mill rate and a request from the owners of the former Beaver Wood Joint Venture, or Beaver Chester plant, to lower the electricity generating plant’s valuation from about $7.3 million to $750,000, but took no action, First Selectman Temple Ireland said.

“[That] we are still researching our options, is I guess, the best way to say it,” Ireland said Wednesday.

Attorney Edmond J. Bearor of Bangor and the plant’s owners have applied for the valuation decrease because the plant is nonfunctional. It has had much of its equipment sold and taken out of it, plus some equipment was lost in a fire, Birtz said.

The 17-megawatt facility, owned by Alternative Energy Inc., burned sawdust, chips, bark and other waste wood to produce electricity from 1986 to 1992, when Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. purchased the remainder of its 25-year contract for more than $25 million and closed it down.

Birtz rejected applications for abatements for the 2004 and 2005 fiscal years, she said, because the applications failed to make state deadlines.

Birtz told the selectmen that they could deny the company’s latest abatement request, ask the company to gradually phase in the abatement over three years, or grant the abatement and file a sudden and severe loss of property claim with the Maine Department of Revenue Services, she said.

If the state approved the claim, the state would cushion the valuation shock for the town.

Bearor and Birtz have been in negotiations over abatements and other issues since April, she said. The new owners bought the property for $750,000 in January.

The selectmen probably will resume abatement discussions in mid-November, Ireland said.


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