Kathy McCarty, Special to The County
17 years ago

 ASHLAND, Maine – Controlled spending, property revaluation and economic growth are being credited for Ashland’s lowest mill rate in three years – down from nearly 26 mills to 20.     “A big part is development, with the pellet plant coming online, as well as new valuation passed on to taxpayers. Spending also factored in. We as a community said ‘okay, here’s what we’re going to do, treat employees as well as we can but also look at some tax relief.’ We now have the lowest mill rate we’ve seen in three years, down from 25.75 in 2005 to 20.0 this year,” said Town Manager Jim Gardner.
Gardner said it’s a positive sign that Ashland is a growing community and one worth living and working in. With a new school on the horizon and continued industrial growth in the forest products field, Gardner sees a bright future ahead.
“We’re doing very well. It sends a beautiful message to the community. We’re healthy and thriving,” said Gardner.
The town manager credited the Town Council for its continued efforts to look to the future.
“What we’re seeing here is just a lot of good work by the Council. Councilors have a clear vision ahead. They’re looking at what they’re doing,” said Gardner.
As an example, he noted town officials have been working with businesses, such as Boralex, to show it’s possible for companies to flourish in Ashland, making economic sense for the community and the state.
“We’ve had some new businesses move in. Recreation adds to the value of the community, as shown with the recent purchase and renovations at the Four Seasons (a local motel). A lot of money was put into that project but now it’s the talk of the town,” said Gardner.
Gardner also credited SAD 32 with helping keep spending in line.
“We were able to keep our budget in line where it needed to be. SAD 32 was instrumental in keeping the mill rate down, in large part thanks to the School Board and superintendent,” said Gardner.
Tax bills went out on August 17, with a deadline of September 14 to receive the discount.
“To receive a 2 percent discount on their tax bills, property owners need to have payments in to the town by September 14,” said Gardner.
Ashland’s budget for the year stands at $1,245,439. Councilors also recently voted unanimously to keep Gardner in his position as town manager.
“Starting in January 2008, I’ll be signing a new contract through 2011. I like the small-town life. I like it so much, I think I’ll stay here the rest of my life,” said Gardner. “Small towns are a great place to live. Everyone knows everyone. We’ve been through a lot in recent years and the community has pulled together. We’re there for each other, in good times and bad. That’s what I love about Ashland and that’s why I’m staying right here.”