Oxford approves county assessment

0
1799
MASS GATHERINGS — Selectman Scott Hunter, left, abstained from a vote to approve a mass gathering permit for the Oxford 250 at the March 15 Board of Selectmen's meeting.

OXFORD — The Board of Selectmen approved a $417,936 county assessment as its portion of the 2018 county tax at its March 15 board meeting.

The amount is just under a 19 percent increase, said Town Manager Butch Asseslin.

Last month, the Oxford County commissioners voted to set the 2018 county tax commitment at $6.98 million, an increase of 19.5 percent over the previous year.

That represents a 1.6 percent increase in an individual property owner’s tax bill, County Administrator Scott Cole said.

In a letter to town officials, Cole wrote that about half of the $1.1 million tax increase is attributable to new expenditures including a $159,102 increase in wages, $145,534 in courthouse expansion expenses and a $100,000 increase in rehabbing the oxford Airport.

Cole said the county one percent return of Oxford Casino money can not be used this year for tax relief.

Cole said the county tax represents, on average, only about 8 percent of the total property tax burden. The other 92 percent includes municipal and school costs. the increase from the county, he said, represents a 1.6 percent increase in overall property taxation.

Oxford selectmen approved the increase without comment.

Selectmen also heard a budget presentation from SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts. The board asked Colpitts to outline the school budget process and update the board on the FY2019 budget preparation.

Colpitts told the board that the budget development process actually begins in the summer when an audit is conducted of the previous fiscal year’s budget to determine the carry over. The budget is adjusted at that time to reflect the true state receipts including the amount of money taken out for Maine Care costs.

In October, another important step takes place when the official student count is determined which helps determine the state’s contributions to a school district. In November the public portal is open and the budget building process begins. From February through April, officials meet with cost center managers to review their requests, the Budget Committee meets and finally in April the superintendent presents his budget to the School Board.

The board will meet with school officials on April 3, along with town officials from the district’s eight member towns, for a presentation on the preliminary FY2019 school budget. Community presentations are schedule for April as well, including the April 5 presentation for Oxford and Otisfield voters at the Oxford Elementary School, beginning at 7 p.m. Voters will act on the budget at the June 7 budget hearing/meeting and the validation referendum on June 12.

In other news, Mike Mayberry of Oxford Speedway was present to request approval of two mass gathering permits.

A town ordinance requires that mass gatherings (those involving participation from 1,000 to 4,900 people and those with 5,000 participants and above) must be approved by the Board of Selectmen. Mayberry requested both permits, one for the Oxford 250 and the second for the regularly scheduled events at the Speedway.

Selectmen unanimously approved both permits which allows the events to take place during the 2018 race season.

Selectmen also authorized the town manager to submit a non binding letter of intent for a formal street light network audit.

The board has been looking into a LED light conversion, contracting with other area towns for a better price. The audit is necessary for the LED company RealTerm to submit a final proposal to the town for the work. The selectboard will vote at a later time on whether to have RealTerm do the LED light conversion.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net