BERLIN — The Select Board set the municipal portion of the town’s tax rate and discussed two town roads at its rescheduled meeting Monday night.

The board, which typically meets on the first and third Thursdays of the month, opted to avoid an Independence Day conflict by meeting on Monday instead.

That meant setting the tax rate three days earlier than it otherwise would have, but it won’t expedite the mailing of the tax bills this year.

With the 30-day petition period for the recently approved budget for the Washington Central Unified Union School District still running, tax bills are weeks away from being finalized and likely won’t be mailed much before the end of the month.

Assuming the school budget isn’t challenged, the state education tax rate for Berlin will be added to the mix and the tax bills will be prepared and mailed sometime after July 26, Town Administrator Dana Hadley said.

The Select Board set the municipal portion of the rate on Monday, opting not to use any of the roughly $500,000 in available surplus funds to reduce a $.0156 rate increase.

The modest increase from $.5508- to $.5664-per-$100-assessed property value will add a little more than $31 to the tax bill for a home assessed at $200,000 — a modest increase Hadley said board members saw no point in masking.

That increase doesn’t yet reflect the education tax rate associated with Berlin’s share of operating the newly merged Washington Central district. That portion of the rate is expected to increase 4.9 cents — adding an extra $98 to the tax bill for a home assessed at $200,000.

Because the bills will be mailed later than usual this year, the Aug. 15 due date for the first installment will be delayed. Taxpayers will have 30 days from the date the bills are mailed, likely pushing the first quarterly payment into late-August or early-September.

Subsequent installments will be due as planned on Nov. 15, Feb. 15 and May 15.

Meanwhile, Hadley said board members are entertaining the possibility of upgrading one Class 4 road to a Class 3 road and downgrading a Class 3 road to a Class 4 road.

Neither decision has been made and one will likely provoke push-back in what has been a long-running dispute between neighbors on Black Road.

Two weeks after a similar request was denied by the board, Josh Walker has again asked members to consider upgrading the road that serves his home, an adjacent rental property that isn’t yet occupied and a home owned by David and Beth Daut.

The Dauts have long argued there is no need to change the status of the rarely used road, while Walker has expressed concerns about everything from its narrow width to maintenance issues.

Hadley said the board plans to decide whether to warn an August public hearing on upgrading the road when it meets on July 18.

The board is also contemplating downgrading Coos Trail — a half-mile Class 3 road that runs by one residence and dead-ends near the location of a now-closed town dump. Hadley said the only affected landowner — Henry LaGue — has no objection to the change, which would relieve the town of the responsibility for maintaining the road. If the board agrees to move ahead with the change, a public hearing would be required and likely be held in August.


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