About 70 Woolwich residents gathered at the Woolwich Central School on Wednesday for the annual town meeting. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Woolwich residents Wednesday approved the town’s $2.2 million municipal budget, representing a $252,179 increase from previous year’s spending.

About 70 residents attended the annual town meeting.

Town administrators don’t yet know how the tax rate will change, but they don’t expect it to change drastically from its current rate of $15.40 per $1,000 of valuation. The new property tax rate will be determined in the end of September when administrators perform the tax commitment, which is when a tax assessor calculates the tax rate for residents based on the municipal, county and school budgets.

The largest driver of the proposed budget is a $100,000 addition to begin saving for the town to conduct a property revaluation. Woolwich hasn’t undergone a revaluation in 14 years, well past the recommended seven-10 years.

Select Board Chair David King said the town plans to ask for another $100,000 over the next two years to bring the total savings to $300,000. The town’s last revaluation 14 years ago cost taxpayers about $360,000.

“We’re trying to (save for the revaluation) incrementally,” King said. “If a revaluation is done properly, one-third of the people will see their taxes stay virtually the same, one-third will see taxes go up a little, and one-third of them will see taxes go down.”

Municipalities assess properties to determine their tax rate and distribute the tax burden among property owners. But values change over time, so municipalities periodically have to conduct re-evaluations, adjusting currently assessed values to the market rate.

Although residents ultimately approved tucking away the $100,000, two residents spoke up with questions or concerns about the upcoming revaluation.

Resident John Kennedy critiqued the select board for waiting 14 years since the last revaluation to do another, causing some residents to over-pay on their taxes while others under-pay.

“The state requires us to do a revaluation every 7-10 years,” said King. “We managed to stretch ours to 14 years because our assessing agent did a good job at keeping us near 100%. Now we’re seeing houses on the market sell for $30,000, $40,000, and $50,000 more than the asking price. Prices on houses are going up so rapidly right now that we can’t keep up.”

Selectman Jason Shaw told The Times Record residents will likely see their property values increase as Woolwich welcomes new residents coming from more crowded and pricier metropolitan areas.

“Woolwich is very popular because we have good schools, we have available land, and Brunswick and Bath are getting full,” said Shaw. “People want to move here and if you have multiple parties interested in a home, that often drives the price up.”

“Right now, anyone that has built a brand new house in this town is being assessed at 100%, but we have other houses in this town that haven’t been assessed for 14 years and they’re probably being assessed at 65% or 70% of their value. This will even that out. It’s a question of fairness.”

Aside from the $100,000 designated for the future revaluation, residents approved $40,000 to pay for improvements to the town’s four miles of unpaved roads, increases to town employee salaries, totaling $10,750, and a $11,857.50 increase in curbside trash and recycling collection.

Residents also approved the purchase of a piece of medical equipment for the town’s Emergency Medical Services Department. The new equipment will cost the town $5,78.13 for the next three years to total $17,634.39.

The LUCAS chest compression system is an automatic CRP machine designed to keep someone having a heart attack alive.

“It increases the effectiveness of CPR,” EMS Director Brian Carlton said. “Manual CPR is about 70% effective because we start to get tired after a while and we’re looking for a certain depth and speed. This hydraulic device keeps that steady and increases the effectiveness to over 99%.”

Carlton said the machine is especially useful to smaller departments like Woolwich because it only requires two people to run. However, it would take six to eight emergency responders to do manual CPR because they need to switch who’s giving chest compressions when one person gets tired.

Carlton said the department has used the machine three times since acquiring it in January.


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