By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - The Town Council made it clear Thursday that any additional state revenues provided to SAD 46 for education as a result of the successful June referendum should be used to reduce property taxes.Town officials worry that state education officials will push school officials to use the extra funds for laptops.
The council members recognized that school directors will have the authority over the additional funds, but they solidified their position Thursday in a resolution.
That resolution recommends that 90 to 100 percent of the extra funds generated from the state paying 55 percent of local education costs, including 100 percent for special education, be used to reduce local assessments.
Tax Assessor David Pearson predicted that if the 55 percent funding and special education costs are covered by the state, Dexter's mill rate could be reduced from 21.7 mills to 15 mills, providing the very tax relief sought by those supporters of the proposed Palesky Tax Cap Initiative.
That initiative is not supported by the council and on Thursday they signed a resolution against it.
The Palesky Tax Cap, if passed in November, would scale back assessed property values in the state to their 1996 levels and would impose a cap of 1 percent or 10 mills on local property taxes.
"This can be disastrous for the town of Dexter," Town Manager Robert Simpson said. He said Palesky Tax Cap supporters say opponents like Simpson are spreading "gloom and doom," when in fact, "I am just painting a picture of reality."
Central Maine service center communities will suffer, he predicted. He said rich communities such as some towns on Mount Desert Island will not suffer like communities such as Dexter where the property values are much lower.
In other business, the council reluctantly agreed to write off about $5,000 in unpaid personal property taxes that are more than six years old. The town does plan to aggressively pursue in Small Claims Court about $30,000 in unpaid personal property taxes that are less than six years old.
The council also agreed to hold a public hearing next month on a proposed curfew for minors. The curfew, which would cover the hours between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., would make parents and businesses share in the responsibility.
Simpson said the proposed curfew is not the answer to all the town's problems but it is a tool. "We're trying to make people know there is a problem," he said.
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