Town of Milo Summer NewsletterAugust 11, 2006 - TRCDear Citizens of Milo:One of the frustrations we experience as Selectmen is the lack of venues through which information can be shared with citizens regarding town affairs. Our bi-monthly public meetings are our main venue, but, with busy schedules, those are hard for constituents to attend. In the absence of accurate information, it is easy for rumors, misunderstanding, and innuendo to rule the day. The purpose of this letter is to update you as to the work of your town government.Let me say from the start that our primary focus has been to keep taxes down while maintaining a progressive attitude towards Milo's future well being. In fact, although we received an increase of half a mil from the school side of the budget this year, we were able to keep taxes flat. In our deliberations, we have stayed focused on serving several constituencies that are vital to the future of our town. Those include our natural environmental resources, the need to strengthen our school and civic organizations, the unique demands on our business community, and the needs of our taxpayers, especially those living on a fixed income. In conjunction with these, we are constantly looking for ways to broaden Milo's tax base.Please allow me to touch on several issues which we have been working on the past few months.The Police Force With the hiring of new police Chief Mike Poulin, we are in the process of putting the finishing touches on our police force. Chief Poulin brings a new perspective and energy to our town. He was unanimously recommended by the Police Committee, a group of dedicated citizens who screen, interview, and recommend police candidates to the Board of Selectmen. We thank the members for their hard work. During this process it became evident that we would have to pay a little more than we had expected to accomplish our task because, as with many things, we fall under the dictates of the marketplace. We are excited about what the Milo Police Department will look like three to six months from now. We are confident you will be pleased with the results.The Recreation Department An interview committee of eight selected John Pokrywka as Milo's new Recreation Director following an extensive search for Murrel Hams' replacement. John started his duties in late June and has been formulating plans for expanding the offerings during the upcoming school year. Our ideas for the Recreation Dept. go beyond soccer, T-ball, and basketball to include, among others, Arts and Crafts, outdoor adventure programs, after school activities for youngsters, programs for the elderly, weight reduction programs for adolescents, and increased utilization of our natural resources. John has formed a Recreational Committee to advise and assist him, as they work to bring these programs to fruition.Re-evaluationMilo has not had property re-evaluated since 1988 and as we all know prices have soared, particularly the last five years. By state law, if our valuations fall below 70% of the market value, we have to re-evaluate. While this will be expensive, it should pay for itself as many of our 1600 pieces of property will be adjusted upward. Currently our mil rate is set at 27.25 per thousand. If a property valued at, let's say $50,000 is reassessed to $120,000, that doesn't necessarily mean a huge jump in taxes. The mil rate will be adjusted downward, perhaps to 13 mils which would indicate a slight increase, but one that would more fairly reflect market values. This re-evaluation is not only mandated by law, but the State withholds school funding if towns are out of line with State guidelines. Moreover, newly built homes and recently purchased homes are paying a disproportionately large share of the tax burden. Fairness and accuracy are our motivating factors. We are just beginning the process and will keep citizens informed as we move forward.H.A.D. 4 We recently entertained several representatives from Mayo Regional Hospital to discuss the possibility of Milo joining the hospital district. We recognize the need to have public discussions on this and expect to move towards that dialogue this Fall.The Industrial Park During discussions with our neighbors in Brownville, it became obvious that the efficient and expedient administration of the Industrial Park would best be served under the direction of one entity. We came to this conclusion in part because of the need to extend the sewer line from where it now stops at C & J's, to the site of the park. The cost of this venture is estimated at $1.6 million dollars and is needed to accommodate not only industrial tenants in the park, but also those properties, including JSI, who now use their own septic systems. Both towns realize any new jobs created by our efforts will benefit the entire area and Brownville is comfortable stepping aside while avoiding any financial commitments. Both towns will continue to work cooperatively on grants and other economic development opportunities. We wish our sister town well and stand ready to help them in any future endeavor.Milo's Comprehensive PlanBy State Law no community can enact and enforce ordinances without having a Comprehensive Plan approved by the State of Maine. Thanks to a committed group of volunteers, our plan is ready to be submitted for State review and approval. Once this is done, we can begin to look closely at issues like zoning, review of town ordinances, and protection of property rights.Elm Street We have made progress in getting DOT to commit to start the long awaited Elm Street renovation next spring. This project has been on the schedule since 1997 and has been continually deferred for a variety of reasons. We need to stay vigilant as Milo has a $600,000 federal grant/loan for the construction of the sewer line that is under a 2007 deadline. More information will be forthcoming.Channel ThreeWe will soon have Channel 3 up and running. This is our public access channel and will serve as a community bulletin board of sorts. Once this channel is up and running it will be necessary for those who have cable TV to re-program their televisions to pick up this new station. We will notify the public with an announcement at the appropriate time.In closing, we'd like to thank all those who have dedicated time and energy this past year to improve the quality of our community. Please feel free to attend Selectmen's meetings to ask questions or simply to stay informed.Respectfully, Tony Hamlin Chairman, Milo SelectmenNOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.