By Samuel Wheeler
Newry Selectmen unanimously approved a 10.8 mil rate for the town, which gave them an overlay of $35,900. The previous mil rate was 9.69.
A major reason for the increase, according to the selectmen, falls under recent changes made to the state’s Business Equipment Tax Exemption program (BETE). BETE, which exempts large scale businesses such as Sunday River, caused a decrease in more than $16 million in personal property tax.
Now the town receives just under $2 million in personal property tax, forcing the 1.11 change to the mil rate. This means a $1.11 increase in taxes per thousand.
Increases in municipal spending, county tax and school contributions were other reasons for elevated mil rate.
Selectmen spent the first half of their meeting discussing the town’s current personnel policy.
One of the lengthy topics focused on the town’s zero tolerance policy on marijuana use. With the drug now being legal for recreational use, the town is considering a possible change to the policy, prompted by advice from attorneys in a recent marijuana update.
The main question was what would pass as an acceptable use of the drug by employees, such as for medical purposes. The selectmen decided to postpone their decision on a possible revision until next meeting.
The town’s harassment policy was a topic as well, with selectmen discussing course of action in a number of different scenarios that may be presented in a workplace.
The selectmen plan to further review the policy next meeting.
One of the last topics on the agenda focused on the fate of the North Newry church. The town is trying to decide if it is worth hiring a building inspector to examine the deficiencies of the building.
Ultimately the motion to spend up to $1,000 for a building inspector was approved unanimously.
The selectmen plan to meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 7 at 5 p.m. at the Newry Town Office.