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Board sets date for special town meeting on mill appraisal, sewer repairs and Bicentennial Park property

MADAWASKA, Maine — Selectmen Monday called for a Feb. 15 special town meeting dealing with financial matters and the acquisition of property from the Catholic Diocese of Portland.

At Monday’s special board meeting, selectmen proposed purchasing the Bicentennial Park property from the diocese. Currently the town leases the park from the church and manages its use. The park is the site for summer musical and social events and the town recently upgraded the playground facilities.

In lieu of a monetary payment to the church for the park land, the town would, for 30 years, agree to continue providing snow removal services at the St. Thomas and St. David churches and abate the annual wastewater fees for church buildings in town.

Board members Monday also recommended spending up to $250,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance to pay for a new appraisal, including legal fees, of the Twin Rivers Paper Company mill facility in town.

Madawaska selectmen agreed in 2010 to assess Twin Rivers — formerly Fraser Paper, Inc. — at $105 million for the fiscal year 2011-12 and then reduce that assessment to $85 million for FY 2013-14. Prior to the initial property valuation reduction, the mill was valued at nearly $170 million.

As the mill and town look ahead to negotiating any future property tax scenarios, selectmen and Town Manager Gary Picard said having an updated assessment of the mill’s current value is important.

Picard said Tuesday that the mill appraisal project is something the town is doing on its own.

The $250,000 also would help fund an in-house property assessor position within the Madawaska town government. Currently, that work is contracted to a third party.

Voters at the Feb. 15 special town meeting also will get to voice their opinion on proposed funding for future wastewater treatment upgrades.

Selectmen and finance committee members both recommend borrowing up to $1.6 million from the USDA’s Rural Development program, at an interest rate not to exceed two percent for 28 years, to fund wastewater collection and treatment facility upgrades.

Selectmen and the committee also recommended accepting a nearly $1.9 million grant from USDA Rural Development for wastewater upgrades.

The Feb. 15 special town meeting is slated for a 6:30 p.m. start at the Madawaska High School library. The full warrant language will be posted at selected public locations in town and is also available for viewing at the town office.

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