Monday, November 08, 2004

Dissolve Your Town, Lower Your Property Taxes

Welcome to what used to be Centerville
What's in a name? Not much in some Maine towns
By Roger O’Neil

THE TOWN FORMERLY KNOWN AS CENTERVILLE, Maine - Mention Maine and most people think of autumn leaves. But the fall foliage masks a troubled landscape.

In Cooper, Maine, citizens say they want to dissolve their town to lower taxes. Going out of business appeals to small places like Cooper, where only 145 people live. With no jobs and an aging population, the tax base is shrinking even though the costs of government keep rising.

"It just got to be more than we could handle," says Sue Dorsey.

Dorsey says that's why the 26 residents of Centerville let the state take over their affairs — everything from education to snow removal.

"There was more to do and less people that wanted to do it," says Dorsey.

Centerville not only locked the door to city hall, it sold it for $3,500.

Since 1980, nine towns in Maine have ceased to be. And more are talking about it. A huge area — half the state — is now part of what's called "the unorganized territory," where there's no local government.

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