MADISON — The closure of Madison Paper Industries has complicated calculation of the local tax rate, according to town officials, who Monday delayed setting the 2016 tax rate to go over valuation numbers.

Town Manager Tim Curtis and Tax Assessor Shirley Bartlett told the Board of Selectmen on Monday night that they are still working to finalize valuation numbers, including personal property at Madison Paper and figures for other large accounts. The board voted unanimously to put off setting the tax rate until next Monday.

Before the meeting, Curtis said the closure of Madison Paper in May “is by far the largest factor” complicating the calculation of this year’s tax rate, which has held at $19.50 per $1,000 of value for the last two years.

Before that, a loss in value of $150 million at Madison Paper in 2014 resulted in an 11 percent tax increase.

With no plans announced for the future of the mill, town officials are having a hard time predicting how much it should pay in taxes, Curtis said.

“I think the impact is going to be over two years to really figure it out,” he said. “If we knew for sure that they had sold it to another papermaking facility or if we knew for sure they were going to scrap it and tear down all the buildings, that would make a difference. But the fact of the matter is we don’t know.”

The president and CEO of Madison Paper, Russ Drechsel, said Monday that the company is “continuing to go through the sales process.”

“We will not be operating the mill and our intent since March has always been to sell the hydro (power facility) and papermaking assets, and we’re still progressing along those lines,” Drechsel said.

He would not comment when asked if a specific buyer has been identified.

Madison Paper is currently assessed at $80 million and pays about $1.56 million in taxes. In May, Specialty Minerals Inc., a company that was producing chemicals for the papermaking process on site in Madison, asked that the town lower its valuation because it would be removing personal property from the site, but Curtis said Monday the company’s buildings and equipment remained at the mill.

Drechsel has said in the past that the value of the mill has dropped since the closure was announced, but he said Monday he is not sure whether the company would be asking for another revaluation.

Meanwhile, Madison Paper has seen a 25 percent increase in its tax bill on assets in Anson – a landfill and hydropower facility, he said.

“A paper machine when it’s making paper is worth so much, and when it’s not making paper it’s worth less,” Curtis said. “That’s what we have to adjust for is that loss in value.”

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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