Topsham selectmen table tax exemption for military, OK manager's raise

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TOPSHAM — The Board of Selectmen last week unanimously tabled an excise tax exemption proposed for residents on active military duty.

Town Manager Cornell Knight said at the board’s Feb. 16 meeting that the exemption used to apply to non-resident military personnel stationed in town. But a state law that took effect Jan. 1 allows municipalities to exempt vehicles owned by Maine residents on active military duty – people who are either stationed permanently out of state or deployed for longer than 180 days, but still want to register their vehicles in Maine.

“We really don’t know how many people that involves,” Knight said. “It could be a few, it could be many, many.”

He said the impact the exemption would have on the town’s revenue is unknown, “so I would be concerned about making a decision.”

Donald Russell, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, pointed out that the state does not reimburse municipalities for the revenue loss incurred by the exemption.

A notice on the matter from the Maine Municipal Association, included with the meeting materials, stated that only a few municipalities have opted for such an exemption.

Ultimate approval of the exemption would be up to Town Meeting.

“On the face of it, it sounds like a wonderful idea,” Selectman Andrew Mason said, noting that the exemption could potentially be a tool to attract people to Topsham.

“I don’t know that this is something that we shouldn’t consider,” he said “… We just don’t have enough information right now.”

Manager’s review

Following an executive session on Knight’s annual job review, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a 2 percent pay raise for the manager. The funds had already been appropriated in the fiscal 2012 budget.

“It was a very positive review, and we’re all happy with the job that our town manager did for us,” Russell said, adding that the board is “looking forward to another successful year with him.”

Knight, now one year into the job, was hired at an annual salary of $93,000, plus benefits. The increase boosts his salary to nearly $94,900.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.