2006 December 8
by Eileen Curry
During the last few minutes of the regular Perry selectmen's meeting on November 27, a disagreement erupted over the possible negotiation of an agreement on behalf of the Town of Perry among Quoddy Bay LNG, town attorney Eric Stumpfel, and one selectman, Chairman David Turner. Selectwoman Jeanne Guisinger, who is opposed to local LNG development, faced off with Turner, saying, "David, no formal decision has been made by the board to allow you, and only you, to negotiate any deal."
Oklahoma-based Quoddy Bay LNG hopes to build a multi-million dollar facility at Split Rock, Pleasant Point, with storage tanks that would be housed in Perry. Guisinger was visibly upset and said to Turner, "I am concerned that only your goals would be placed on that negotiating table. You can be very selective in the information that you bring back to us, and you can also be very slanted in your negotiations with them." Turner, who favors an LNG facility in Perry, said, "The goal here is to bring together a plan that we can vote on in public. The issue here is to have one person go meet [with Quoddy Bay] and bring that information back for discussion by the selectmen in executive session."
When questioned by Guisinger, Selectman Dick Adams said, "I don't have a problem with David going. I figure he'll come back, and then we decide. We might not decide. We might disagree." The board voted 2 - 1, Guisinger against, to appoint Turner as negotiator in representing the town. Turner stated that any agreement would be brought back to selectmen to review.
The town has written a letter to the Maine Revenue Service, Property Tax Division, to appeal the 2007 valuation increase to $67,250,000. The grounds for the appeal, according to the letter, are: the Town of Perry has a substantial amount of acreage and water frontage affected by the new Department of Environmental Protection regulation of wading bird habitat and shorebird nesting, feeding and staging areas. This new setback regulation will have an immediate and significant reduction in land values near the shore.
Turner also told the group of about seven people that the state's ratio of full value on homes dropped from 65% to 53%. He gave several examples of Perry homes that were assessed at a certain value and selling for at least double the amount. "In the last three years, our [property] value has jumped from $40 million to $68 million, total assessed value. The driver is shore frontage and salt water." Turner extended a warning about next year's tax bill, "It's not going to be fun." The letter, he said, was "a chance to see if we can get some relief."
The town of Perry has released property tax bills. Turner said that Town Clerk Janice Scanlon "spent Thanksgiving with turkey and tax bills," and on behalf of the board extended an appreciative acknowledgement to Scanlon for working on the holiday. Tax liens have also been mailed out. Turner said that some properties owed back taxes since 1998. "We've sent out notices. It is their [homeowner's] responsibility to contact us and make arrangements to pay. If they decide to make payments, we won't take action. They won't show up on my radar screen if they act now."
It was reported that the Perry Fire Department received a grant for the purchase of a defibrillator. Selectmen decided that it would be better used at the Perry Elementary School for emergencies instead of at the municipal building.
A request from Gail Keezer of the Perry school asked selectmen to donate $750 that the Maine Department of Transportation paid the town for property taken in front of the school for the Route 1 project. Keezer said that the money would be used for phase II of the playground project. Some discussion followed, and a member of the audience suggested that the money be given to the school and used for a fence on the left side of school property and Route 1.
The town is still trying to fill a health officer position. Some names were mentioned as possible candidates. The person hired would implement an emergency plan for Perry and follow up on specific emergency issues.
The next Perry selectmen's meeting is on Monday, December 18, at 4 p.m. at the municipal building on Route 1.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.