MILO — A decision on the 2017 tax commitment was not finalized during a June 27 selectmen’s meeting, as instead the mill rate could be set during a potential meeting on Tuesday, July 18.
“Normally we commit taxes the first week of July,” Town Clerk Betty Gormley said. She explained that with a potential state government shutdown looming for later in the week, Maine Revenue Services Supervisor of Municipal Services Mike Rogers recommended towns wait several weeks before sending out tax bills. Gormley said Rogers’ recommendation indicated there could be changes made to the Homestead Exemption, so a delay could prevent communities from having to send out a second round of bills.
The selectmen will now look to vote on a 2017 mill rate at a future session, with July 18 mentioned as a possibility.
For 2016, Milo’s mill rate totaled $32.50 per $1,000 in assessed property. This figure breaks down to $18.10 for the municipality, $12.73 for SAD 41 and $1.67 for the Piscataquis County budget. A year ago taxes were due in two parts on Aug. 15 and Dec. 15, with an annual interest rate of 7 percent on unpaid portions.
In other business Town Manager Damien Pickel, speaking on the Derby Shops, said, “We have to subdivide it into three lots so we can maximize the grant.” He said this change to the town-owner former railroad property will be done with Ransom Consulting Engineers and Scientists Senior Project Manager and Environmental Engineer Peter Scherr, and changes to the site will be brought before the planning board for approval
Pickel said the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council has clean-up monies available for projects across the region and Milo can apply for additional funds.
“So we will be moving forward with that shortly,” Select Chair Lee McMannus said.
The selectmen approved an agreement to contract with the Sebec-based Royal Treatment Boarding, Grooming & Daycare for canine animal control.
Pickel said the Royal Treatment Boarding, Grooming & Daycare would be paid a yearly fee of $200 by the town, plus a rate of $23 a day for up to 10 days per dog brought there. This rate would be much less than the $3,500 paid per year to the Bangor Humane Society, plus the mileage for Joe Guyotte — who handles animal control for much of the region — who previously needed to travel from Milo to Bangor.
“You can’t go wrong with this contract,” Pickel said. “Plus we are supporting a local business. I think we would bring them to a good place.” He said in addition to services offered for current pet owners, over 180 dogs have been adopted through the work of Royal Treatment Boarding, Grooming & Daycare.
Pickel, who also serves as Milo police chief, said the MDEA is investigating an incident that happened on June 22 in the Derby section of town. He said that evening the Milo Fire Department was called to a residence — “it’s not a home we’re unfamiliar with,” Pickel said — for a report of a strange odor and smoke coming from the basement.
“They responded and because of good communication between them and us, a safe entry was made and the issue discovered and taken care,” Pickel wrote on the Milo Police Department Facebook page.
“The suspicious smell and ‘smoke’ were the byproducts of what is being investigated as a possible ‘meth lab,’” he wrote. “However, contrary to much of the talk around town, nothing blew up. MDEA and the State Hazmat team were notified and the scene was secured and eventually rendered safe.”
“MDEA is handing it right now and their investigation is ongoing,” Pickel said, as no arrests have been made.
The police chief said he cannot discuss the investigation, but he could thank the fire department at the select meeting after doing likewise on Facebook. “I can say that the Milo Fire Department did a fantastic job,” Pickel wrote. “They staged, pre-planned and made a safe entry to make sure life and property were not endangered. I thank them all for their response and their professionalism and dedication. The residents of the town of Milo and surrounding communities should be proud of these firefighters … I know I am and I appreciate all they do.”